Outsmarting Simon start out their “Stand Up Tonight” with a well-meaning but essentially bland track in “Number Two”. The vocals are reminiscent of Yellowcard and Over It, and while the track plods on with a tempo that threatens to turn people off before they’ve adequately been turned on, Outsmarting Simon do play a strong, instrumentally-based type of emotive rock. The bass lines that provide such a presence during “Thirty-Third and Lexington” rival only the vocals in sheer emotive content; the guitar fuzz that encircles the track makes for a much warmer experience. It is only during “The Cusp of Carabella” that Outsmarting Simon really shine in the way that Triple Crown bands should; beginning the track with a dual-set of vocals, a very down-tempo arrangement comes to dominate the low post while both vocals flitter above the track. The experimentation done concerning the guitars on the track also provide some different sound to a disc that had almost ant-like conformity up to that point.
“On the Psalms of Many” broods almost to the point that the band sounds about ready to set their instruments down and find a dark corner, but then each member of the band blasts into blistering, intense music that is a diametric opposite of what was the previous norm. “On the Psalms of Many” also shows the band’s intense love of Radiohead, with certain guitar lines sounding similar to OK Computer-era tracks. “The Low” is a nice change of pace after the extraordinarily tame “Consciously Quiet”, which has P.J. attempt a Brand New-style of vocals among some of the best bass lines to be recorded in what can be called “emo” music. The crazy thing about the bass solo that demarcates the two parts of “The Passing” is that it is so simplistic but almost begins to mimic a human voice after a certain period. The energy of that bubbling bass passes through to the following “The Low”, even if Outsmarting Simon seems to go a little too far into the Rivers Cuomo-esque brand of melodrama during that track. Outsmarting Simon has been around for a few years and there are some bright spots on “Stand Up Straight”, but there are equally trying moments on this disc that really make any leaps forward null. The band has talent but has not made a magnum opus on this disc like fellow label mates Brand New (in Deja Entendu). Check them out in a few years and I’m sure all will be surprised.
Top Tracks: The Passing, Falling or Flying
Outsmarting Simon – Stand Up Tonight / 2005 Triple Crown / 12 Tracks / http://www.outsmartingsimon.com / http://www.triplecrownrecords.com / Reviewed 30 March 2005