Spitalfield seems to have a lot more coherent effort with this album that they didn’t have the ability to have with their last album. The whole band works together to provide a solid, cogent sound that is at all times radio friendly and poppy, but the question remains whether it is good. Beginning “Stop Doing Bad Things” with the Rush-influenced (at least in terms of bass) “So I Heard You Joined A Convent”, Spitalfield has a cutting-edge, brooding sound that allows vocalist Mark to really put forth eir best foot forward. The lead-up that JD creates on drums during “Texa$ with a Dollar Sign” makes a perfect counter-point to the stop-start nature of the track. Each track seems impeccably groomed for mTV and as such, the real soul of the band gets obscured by the computer-like perfection that the band exhibits on “Stop Doing Bad Things”. As such, some of the listener base that would get into the immense energy exhibited, reveling in the minor drop outs or the humanity of the band, really has nothing to glom onto with Spitalfield. Sure, the music sounds good but this almost feels like one of those movies where a band is “playing”, and as soon as the credits roll one sees that it was just a studio act that in no way connects to your emotions or desires.
Everything that is on “Stop Doing Bad Things” hides behind innumerable layers and vocal corrections, and while Spitalfield may provide for good driving music (think “Tampa Bum Blues”), the simple fact that the band’s forays in angry, pseudo-punk rock seem as ill timed as the New Radicals. One thing that Spitalfield has going for them are their attention to mood creation that is exemplified by tracks like “Restraining Order Blues”; seemingly dragging their listeners along for a fairly morose beginning, the band’s true energy comes during Mark’s supersonic vocals. There are some strong indicators of a cohesive front placed up by the band with the dual-guitar assault that ends “The Future Is Now”; all indicators show that the band should be better that the music on “Stop Doing Bad Things” allows. By and large, the tracks are smooth and easy on the ears but there is something vital missing – a spark that gets all listeners involved – that keeps this CD relegated to the dustbins of history. The best thing, at least in my eyes for Spitalfield to do at this juncture would be to release a “Show Must Go Off”-style live video and show that they are real, they are intense and do not need millions of dollars of mastering equipment to succeed.
Top Tracks: Restraining Order Blues, From The Desk of B. Larsen