New Radiant Storm King – after twenty years at it – still beg the question: What is this band for? The group’s latest, Drinking in the Moonlight, is yet another elementally innocuous collection of wiry pop rock. However talented their membership, it’s almost as if nothing this band has ever done has ever been even remotely memorable or remarkable. This new release simply acts as another road cone in their primarily inane career.
Darla Records goes to great lengths to convey that the record was record in “deep, rural Massachusetts,” – as if the record is some kind of return to nature. But if your barn studio sounds as crisp and modern as any off a sidewalk in Los Angeles or Nashville – it could be built on the side of a hill, or for that matter underground in any New England backwater – the feel of the record isn’t going to change a bit. Call it a failed musical gentrification. There’s nothing deep or rural here; quite the opposite, in fact.
Production wise, the album is almost perfect. The mixes are succinct, the guitars brilliant, the accompaniment handsome. The only problem is that the songs just aren’t that good.
The grinding melody of “Undignified” is the perfect anthem for your Subaru Summer. “Islander” too conjures a distant magical land of low APR financing. This is deli-pop with the wrapper on, delivered fresh out of the microwave with plastic cutlery and napkins with a cold bottle of sugar water – listeners will crave a steak and a beer – some noisy feedback – a primal shout or scream – a curse word – anything.
The most enjoyable tracks are the wry, three minute instrumental “New Paltz Waltz” and the not-so-conspicuously Silver Jews-like cadence of “Fall Prey.” On one hand, lead Storm King Peyton Pinkerton could be applauded that his other project – those same Silver Jews – doesn’t rub off more here. Tragically ironic indeed that the records best parts are when their influence, no matter how slight, rises above the chocolate sauce to the foamy surface.