Album Review by Adam Foster
No-one could doubt that Howie Statland is a talented man: after all, he is credited with writing, producing and recording every song on this album. In effect, he is NYC Smoke.
No one could doubt, either, that he has an above average way with a song. Many of the best-crafted tracks fall somewhere between the Beatles and Pink Floyd on one hand, and Nirvana and Green Day on the other (although, alarmingly, LULLABY strays very close to Del Amitri territory).
Standout tracks include EMPIRE OF DOUBT (despite the portentous lyrics, it has great shape), the mesmeric BIGGER, and the surprising final track, PICK & CHOOSE, which starts with a worrying Wings-like intro but soon builds into a compelling King-Crimson-meets-the-Foo-Fighters tale of moral dilemmas and self loathing. Unfortunately, the possibly beautiful ending really needs to work in contrast to the rest of the track. It needs a firestorm to precede it.
And this is where the doubts creep in. It feels like Statland is holding a lot back – a controlled, studio performance. The songs are good, but the lyrics – many of which are touched with fear and loathing, with a particular down on the vagaries of the rock and roll culture in general and drugs in particular – deserve a little more venom in the playing.
NYC Smoke are apparently playing a few London dates later this year. If they can let their hair down a bit – forget the craft, boys: play the damn songs – it should not be a wasted evening.