Starting out “The Great Leap” with a very pop-alternative sounding instrumental opening, recalling The Minutemen and Husker Du, shades of Dick Dale are infused with this shambling behemoth as the first strains of vocals come out. Moving more in the Patti Smith / Nico vein of things during the second-half of the first track. Moving away from the earthy and dark sounds for a more emotive and electronic mood, the lead-in to the second track, “Electronika”. However different in approach that “Under Hudson” and “Electronika” are, the same influences color both the tracks in such a way that a cohesive, coherent set of linkages are made between the tracks. Pushing five minutes, “Electronika” simply does not have enough in the way of innovation and experimentation to keep it from lagging on, especially during the second half of the track.
The throaty vocals during “Call and Response” provide a smoothness that the jangly guitars feed off of, creating a full-sounding dichotomy. “Call and Response” recalls an earlier period in American music, falling into the psychedelia of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, with the overall sound being tempered by Lisa Liu’s guitars. Peaking during the penultimate track, the Breeders-sounding “Chant Song” that explores the sweet dissonance of a dual-vocal assault, laid down this time by Lisa and Jenny. The lead-up to the ending of the track, marked by an ever more-chaotic and sped-up guitar line, explodes all over the ears of the listener, allowing for the after-coitus cool-down period that ends the track. Finishing off “The Great Leap” with the same alternative-rock guitar noodling that is commonplace through the CD, Renminbi needs to be more bold in what they commit to disc. Each individual is incredibly talented, but the lack of spontaneity on this disc makes it suffer.
The thing is with these chaotic and brooding guitar-assaults found throughout “The Great Leap” that really is irksome are the near-identical nature of each one. Sure, some continuity is great for a disc, and it is even harder to find any semblance of that on a five-song EP, but Renminbi lets all other matters suffer in their achievement of this goal. If more tracks come to be more like “Call and Response”, I can see Renminbi’s future being incredibly bright, but when 60% of an EP sounds like the exact same thing, I don’t see people picking it up.
Top Track: Call and Response
Renminbi – The Great Leap / 2004 Self-Released / 5 Tracks / http://www.renminbinyc.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / Reviewed 29 October 2004