The Closer You Get
Mantra / Beggars Banquet
By: Eric G.
Everybody knows that a bass guitar should never be played through a wah-wah pedal. Six By Seven breaks this rule by the third song on its second album, The Closer You Get. It’s a forgivable mistake, though, and Six By Seven pulls through it relatively unscathed. The band certainly won’t be consigned to the depths of obscurity with the likes of The Soup Dragons for mocking sixties cliches, especially since the rest of the album rocks with a mix of aggressive space rock and bratty punk bravado.
Six By Seven sounds like it has something to prove, which is true to an extent. Early in its career the band blew a big opportunity with a shoddy performance at a show in Leicester, where labels were prepared to fight to sign a deal, and, consequently, the band had to self-release its first single, “European Me.” The single generated enough buzz to overshadow the bad press from that infamous concert and Beggars Banquet immediately snatched the band up. Its first album, The Things We Make, was a bit overblown, as the band indulged some of its more heavy-handed influences at the expense of a batch of decent songs. The band quickly discovered that the world only needed one Spiritualized.
The Closer You Get showcases the Six By Seven’s sharpened songwriting skills. Very few of the songs ramble on past the dreaded five-minute mark, but you can still hear plenty of influences from The Jesus And Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine to Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. “Eat Junk Become Junk” is a fine opener with its squealing swirl of guitars and anthematic vocals. “Sawn Off Metallica T-Shirt” keeps the pace up, adding some disjointed changes to the punk-ish attack. The vocals whine and howl like some sort of manic Mark E. Smith.
The falsetto vocals notwithstanding, “Ten Places To Die” tips its hat to Radiohead in several ways. The textured orchestration recalls Ok Computer’s expansive soundscapes as do the space-age effects. The aforementioned bass wah wah drags it all back down to reality, though. Some songs don’t quite live up to the new standards: “New Year” starts off promising but stumbles into a pompous, Oasis-style chorus, and “England And A Broken Radio” is a pointless and self-indulgent waste, comprised of distorted vocals and meandering melodies. However, tracks like “My Life Is An Accident” and “Don’t Wanna Stop” show both extremes of the band’s dynamic, from dark, droning rock to full throttle punk.
Despite having only two albums under its belt, Six By Seven has been slaving away since 1991. The Closer You Get is an impressive step forward, but it lacks consistency. At this rate, though, album number three should be something exciting to behold.