Auckland three piece The Vacants’ debut album In Transit is nine tracks of repetitive, derivative, lyrically indecipherable paint-by-numbers-genre fitting, replicating drug-induced jams. Yes, for the second consecutive week Salient is going to do the unthinkable, and rip apart an independent local release. So shoot us.
Repetitive because the nine tracks are based on the same structure and are barely distinguishable.
And I did try. I gave In Transit a generous four full listens. Through its repetitiveness, a few songs became rather familiar. But then that may be because they are completely derivative in their musical influences.
Sonic Youth was the first thought that came to mind on the opening ‘Little White Lies,’ with its jangling guitars, heavy bass, post-punk-with-a- tinge-of-grunge structure. Joy Division are evident throughout in their tortured, starving artist ways. I even watched their myspace music video, for their second track ‘Black Iris’ – which confirmed these guys grew up on a diet based around Nirvana (when Kurt Cobian’s drug-fucked, ‘the world is against me’ rhetoric was probably most inspiring).
Every track was based on the formulaic contrast of lyrically indecipherable, barely audible ‘singing’ (that typical brooding, hushed, depressing style) with desperate screaming in choruses or refrains.
Theme-wise, I was lost as to what The Vacants were trying to present.
‘One On A,’ although still featuring all the above elements, stood out against the bleakness of the rest. This track displayed more energy, good use of stops, and the chorus – still playing on the contrasts – was memorable (albeit due to the shouting, so at least it wasn’t real words I had to decipher).
‘Old Friends’ stabs and chugging was Placebo-ish, and the following track, ‘Long March Home’, attempted a hypnotic sound with light percussion on the cymbals and droning do dos, with a lengthy jam to round off. In contrast, the title track sounded as if The Vacants couldn’t collectively decide what to play, so all opted to do their own thing – resulting in a disjointed, drum-dominated catastrophe – the worse title track I have heard in a while.