By: Eric G.
A few seconds after pressing 'play' I had to double check to make sure that I had put the right disc in the player because I could have sworn this was the Foo Fighters, but, sure enough, it's the new National Skyline EP. For those of you familiar with National Skyline’s past attempts at sleek modern ennui my mistake must seem ridiculous, but I assure you it is an easy lapse given the vocal similarity. The acoustic guitars and swirling synth effects eventually make it plain that this is, in fact, not the Foo Fighters, but the vocals could easily pass for something emitted by Dave Grohl circa the first Foo Fighter's record.
There is an almost identical scenario during track two, but this time I am forced to check my player to ensure that there isn't a Beck CD stuck underneath somewhere. "Identity Crisis" is an appropriate title for band pushing a half-baked imitation of Beck’s “New Pollution.” By track three ("Ghosts") National Skyline is back to sounding like itself- or at least its former, sort of borrowed self, which takes cues from early Cure records and adds a post-modern, sub-Radiohead gloss to its retro-futuristic-goth simulation. Karolina II sounds like bombastic post-Zooropa U2, which we all know is bad news indeed. The vocals take a stab at what comes so easily for Bono: that self-important, grandiose wail, but Jeff Garber just sounds pompous without the panache to back it up.
All credit to National Skyline for its fine job of filching other people's styles. Identity crises aside, though, the band has a knack for catchy hooks. "October", once you get over the Dave Grohl thing, really isn't a bad pop song. The drum programming is a little thin, but the melody is strong. The band employs New Order’s organic foundation mixed with synthetic dressing fairly well, looping spacey sounds and goth keyboard lines underneath the steady, simpleton beats. "Identity Crisis" is indefensible for its blatant Beck thievery, but its chorus is nonetheless infectious. Perhaps, the smoke machines have clouded National Skyline's senses because this EP is just barely worth a slot amongst your hidden Kommunity FK and Human League records.