Better Looking Records
By: Eric G.
Why get off on the wrong foot with a bad band name? Is it that hard to come up with something memorable these days? Who's going to want to tattoo "The And/Ors" on his arm? Nobody. Thankfully, the music rises above the bad name, but it's not quite far enough. Led by former Interstate Ten frontman Daniel Black, The And/Ors churn through a noisy collection of bar-rock songs with fairly catchy choruses and spunky male/female harmonies (thanks to former Jejune bassist Arabella Harrison).
Black's high-energy pop songs are easy enough on the ears with simple structures and Pixies-style dynamics. The dueling guitars add some much-needed crunch to the standard indie rock fare, but the vocals remain somewhat generic. The first four songs carry quite a punch, though. They're short, sweet, and to the point. "Candy Takes The Cake" has a classic Cars feel to it sans the new wave synthetics. The chorus may be a tad saccharine, but it's still catchy as hell. "As We Play The Tape Tricks Us" is a power pop rocker, complete with high-end harmonies and jarring guitar. Too bad it's only about forty seconds long. Thanks Guided By Voices. "Terror Eyes" steals a page from Evan Dando's songbook with its droopy-eyed vocal styling, and "Flexiclocks" capitalizes on an infectious guitar hook, recalling Superchunk in the verses.
Things start to fall apart with the indulgent "Timespacechanger", however. Bleating feedback, a plodding pace, and tuneless vocals bog this stinker down. Unlistenable. The band gives alternative country a go on "At The Saturn Bar." Guitarist Lane Miller is a fan of the whammy bar, which used sparingly, is a welcome diversion, but Miller can't keep his hands off it. Any novelty gets old fast with overexposure. Duh. "Screams Nicole" suffers from bland songwriting (and that damn whammy bar!), but the excessive guitar noise keeps the song's head above water.
Just when you thought the album was sinking it its own swampy garage rock a badly titled rocker ("Neo-Disney Hype-Trip") revives the momentum enough to hold your attention a little while longer. Ah, but then all is lost in the chorus: "it's going fabulous/it's fucking fab." Yeesh. Like the Bruce Springsteen songs it's "one step up and two steps back" for The And/Ors. For the rest of the album the band seems to run in place, revisiting alternative country ("Loft Life") and again invoking the spirit of Evan Dando ("Masterblaster"). Will Self-Destruct has its moments, but the band repeatedly misses the boat with questionable lyrics, generic musical passages, and a tendency for overindulgence.