Mint – American Style

American Style

The cover of Mint’s second album, American Style, is generic. It obviously resembles an American flag, with the stars lining the inside of the printed “Mint.” Sorry, Mint, but you are missing six stars. That’s not very respectful to the country that lent itself to your album’s title. But I forgive you, for that doesn’t mean the band is boring and messy. Well, in this case, it does mean that. Mint is quite mediocre. They are not bad, but they are nothing special that begs for the ears to hazard a listen.
The album opens promisingly with Mint’s take on the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” And this brings us to one of the band’s main turn-offs: John Nickles’ vocals. At times unbearable, occasionally unobtrusive, but usually just annoying, Nickles’ voice detracts from the quality of the record. His voice sounds like an almost-as-annoying version of Rob Thomas (if that is at all possible). Listen to the band’s cover of Madonna’s “Into the Groove” for a vocal sample that physically pains the inner ear. It never fails to bring me shivers.
Apparently, it is Mint’s aim to make it onto the airwaves of modern rock radio. Their dreams could probably be answered. They do have a certain radio-friendly sound, but not in the good way that stated influences Weezer and Superdrag have (“Hideaway” could almost be on a Superdrag album). “Pierced and Tattooed” supposedly “brings to mind Weezer.” Yes, its lyrics may bring to mind the worst of The Green Album: “I need some loving from you / I’m willing to do just what I have to / don’t give me up / I’ll make the cut / and then my love will be true / oh-oh / but do I gotta get pierced and tattooed / just to sit next to you.” Another song that breaks new grounds in lyrical prose is the song entitled “I’ve Got a Crush.” The chorus goes a little something like this, “I’ve got a crush / a crush on you!”
Yet there is a certain amount of catchy-ness here. Surprisingly, the more bearable tracks on American Style surface after the 10th song. The last five tracks are less typical and more laid-back, where acoustic guitars start to show themselves. And more importantly, where Nickles’ voice calms down and allows the music to not be so smothered. “Following You” is a short, pleasant acoustic number where Nickles obeys that ‘6-inch voice’ rule he was taught in kindergarten. Perhaps even more satisfying is “Radio,” with its hypnotic, standout bass lines. “Love Bug” is the most impressive song here, with a screeching guitar and five-minute length that allows the song to actually develop into something listenable. The opening guitar actually does bring to mind the Pixies (an influence stated in the liner notes). This is not to say, however, that Mint sounds like or ever reaches the level of musical ability that the Pixies did.
Mint does have potential to be something more than what they currently are: a decent radio band. Had American Style been shortened to 10 songs (I could have done without “Everything,” “I Deserve,” “You’re So Attached,” “Into the Groove,” and “I’ve Got a Crush”) and sequenced a little less predictably (the piano-driven “Goodnight Forever” brings the album to a close), this album might have garnered slightly more praise. The members can play their instruments, but not in a way that has not been done so many times before. So many times better. As it stands, American Style is a record that presents nothing new in music. The liner notes suggest, “For Best Results Play Twice.” I’ve listened to the album well over two times. American Style is not at the level of complexity or contain any hidden surprises that will change your view on the album after the first listen.