Greenlawn Abbey – Self/Titled (CD)

Greenlawn Abbey – Self/Titled / 2004 Diaphragm / 12 Tracks / http://www.diaphragmrecords.com / Reviewed 02 February 2005

Coming forth in a very seventies vein, Greenlawn Abbey seem to me to be a lighter version of Boston with their first track on their self-titled debut, “Ladykick”. While the blazing hooks of Boston are not as present on the track as I would personally like, Greenlawn Abbey comes out with a multi-vocal assault and strong guitar work to make the track strictly their own. The pervasive rhythm of “Super Eight” is simultaneously reminiscent of both the Gin Blossoms and the Kinks – the vocals are more than comfortable, they are utterly disrespectful of the Sex Pistols-influenced guitar riffs laid down. While the tracks are continually looking back towards those earlier styles of music, the simple fact is that Greenlawn Abbey cuts out a lot of the extraneous bullshit that chains the previous wave of bands down; each track is about 2:30 instead of a tedious and trying 4:00. Finally allowing for the virtuosic style of guitar solos to make themselves known during “Strawberry Blond”, the diametrically opposite state, that of the simplistic, Beach Boys meets Ramones style of guitars dominates the next track, “The Big Picture”.

Put most simply, Greenlawn Abbey plays a feel-good brand of backwards-looking rock and roll that is not the overproduced wankery of bands like The Strokes and Jet, but rather the slighty-rebellious and sloppy music that has always been present in all the garages across the world. Finally insinuating an audible and omnipresent bass line into “Cigarette Girls”, the strains of disco-rock play at the periphery of Greenlawn Abbey’s album experience. For those individuals who are wanting a transcendent experience by listening to this album, I really can’t offer this as a good choice. For those individuals who are into well-played, catchy and overall happy music, a rarity in popular culture today, Greenlawn Abbey’s album is probably one of the best choices of this year.

Still, the disc’s high point among a mountain range doesn’t even come until two-thirds of the disc is over. Like a mixture of “That Thing You Do” and “Sugar Daddy” (off the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack), “The Waiting Game” is a track with that rare ability to come off as perfectly made for the pop community as it would be for the true connoisseurs of music. One would think with all this rubber-necking to the past that this album would necessarily be dated, but Greenlawn Abbey renders their innovative style in music in such a way to ensure that it sounds as newly-made as the donuts at Krispy Kreme.

Top Tracks: The Waiting Game, Nonphenomenon

Rating: 6.2/10

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