Mercury Tilt Switch – Brundle Kid

Mercury Tilt Switch
Brundle Kid

Since when did rock bands become so content with sounding normal? I realize that that whole Nevermind album was really sweet a few years back, but simply having a quiet/soft/quiet dynamic does not make an artist. And self-producing a record makes one underground only in name, not in spirit. Mercury Tilt Switch are getting a lot of press in England for sounding a whole lot like a bunch of other bands (I know, I don’t understand it either, it’s just what they do over there). You see, MTS want to sound a lot like Braid. That’s tough, because Hey Mercedes is currently the Braid cover band of the moment. Further complicating this issue is that Braid really never wanted to be Braid. Braid wanted to be Jawbox. It doesn’t get any easier from there, as Burning Airlines is currently busy being Jawbox. It all leads to a lot of incestuous derivation, and that’s the only way I can describe Mercury Tilt Switch.
The album opens with “Caffeine Avalanche,” which is a pretty apt title for the best track on the album. It’s a full-tilt rock anthem, with big, shouted vocals and a good, steady pace. A whole album of these, and I might be happy. Even from the first track though, the band sounds extremely extremely derivative. Something in the lead singer’s voice – and in the band’s guitars and rhythm section and overall dynamic – reminds me exactly of another UK band called Seafood. Seafood has since descended into mediocrity after a promising debut, but they were hyped by at least one of the sources giving MTS serious ink now – Fierce Panda Records.
After the first track, the album descends, quickly. There is a plaintive acoustic number “Edge of the Swimming Pool,” up-tempo “rockers” like “There is No Such Thing as a Freak Wave,” and songs that sound exactly like the first track “Tall Trees.” “Half Time Shankly” is one of the band’s better melodies, but the annoyance factor is upped 10-fold by the shameless use of the quiet/soft dynamics mentioned earlier. “Carter 78” is another one of the band’s best songs, this one coming closest to the intensity of the opening song. To close the album, the band decide to take a stab at some of those “larger issues” – think U2 – in the unlistenable “Casualties in the Global Village.” Argh.
If it sounds like I have nothing nice to say about this band, then you’re reading this review correctly. For some reason, I just can’t stomach the straight-ahead indie rock this band spews. Maybe it’s the heat on a Friday afternoon, or the frustration of the first week of classes, but this just isn’t doing it for me right now. Aim higher.