The van Gobots – EP

The van Gobots - EP

The van Gobots - EP

The van Gobots‘ 2008 EP has spunk. The band’s catchy post-punk lacks innovation, but good songwriting makes the music enjoyable. The songs are focused and clean. Maybe too clean. The band’s efficiency could leave listeners wanting for depth and detail. But this quartet seems aware of their limits and, thankfully, they don’t indulge in long musical forays. The van Gobots should put their enthusiasm to use and explore their potential on the debut LP due this fall.

Until then, their best efforts can be found in tracks 3 and 4, “Robert Frost” and “One Shot Down, To Steps Back”, from this six song EP.  The relaxed rhythm and jubilant chorus set “Robert Frost” apart. Although the song features the same musical approach found in the other 5 tracks, the vocal here is the album’s best and the spirit behind the backing vocals is contagious. The band delays the song’s conclusion for a few bars, giving the guys extra room to vary their tempos and guitar approaches. This variety is something the rest of the EP sorely needs. The bouncing “One Shot Down, To Steps Back” features the disc’s only keys, a brief synthetic respite from the sometimes grating guitars. But the hook is what makes this one special.

The EP’s strengths are its energy and efficient, pop-oriented songwriting. Its weaknesses are monotony, spotty production, and average musicianship. The bass and drums play modestly, but their rhythms are always snappy. Splashing cymbals sometimes cut through the mix, and the guitars can come off a little grating. The vocal isn’t much better–the singer sounds as if he drew in a deep breath and never quite exhaled all the way. The EP’s first two songs are mediocre, and the last two feel even less inspired. But throughout the EP, the band’s potential is plain to see.

Coming out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, The van Gobots have set for themselves a foundation on which to build. The history of post-punk’s popularity is erratic. If The van Gobots put in a lot of work, grow, and catch a break at the right time, then they could draw some attention. But so could a lot of other bands.