One album down, and Super 400 have already achieved something few of the biggest rock bands in the world can match. Their hometown of Troy, New York has named a national holiday after them: Super 400 day. Combine that quirky claim to fame with the stunningly stark artwork on fifth offering Sweet Fist’s cover and a biography that reads like a rock version of Gulliver’s travels, and this three-piece certainly create astronomical expectations.
Sweet Fist was recorded on tape, and it’s an album that revels in its own simplicity: slow, sleazy rock that hints heavily at influences from any genre that’s ever been described as funky. Guitarist Kenny opens up – and largely stays – on vocals, delivering sparing lyrics over a selection of old school power-rock melodies. Kenny’s slurring, blues-influenced voice is occasionally replaced by bassist Lori, who adds a touch of lyrical femininity.
For all their power, however, the instruments rarely get out of second gear individually, and combine to produce dirty great power chords that vary little in terms of style or pace through Sweet Fist’s full 52 minutes. “Thorn Tree” is slow, funky and full of slightly droning, lulling vocals. “Thought It Was the End” is slow, funky and full of slightly droning, lulling vocals, and “White Bird” is… you get my point.
There are, however, a few real redeeming features here. “Earth Move’s” chorus is a real change of pace, a song that dabbles in a few notes and musical twists that – unfortunately – don’t diffuse into the rest of the album. “Flashlight” is interesting if only for variety Lori’s take on the vocals offers. “Devil Song” brings the pace down to a delicate near standstill, and evokes more emotion that every other track combined.
Truth be told, this album will probably sit slightly better with fans of funk or jazz who dabble in rock, as opposed to the straight up rock fan. A few of the tracks tucked away in the middle are so drifty it’s difficult not to let eyelids start to droop. For all the power Super 400 create with their instruments, the vocals slide into the background track after track, and the simplicity of both the music and recording techniques evoked ‘dated’ more than ‘old-school’ to this reviewer.
Dated, of course, is not an inherently bad thing, and – like most bands of a more old fashioned style – the heavy bass suggests the sound would be far less sleep inducing live. Besides, if one album warrants a Super 400 holiday back home they must be doing something right. Who knows what the second could bring! [ END ]
01. Needle Down
02. Another Heavy Word
06. Sand Hill
07. Thought It Was The End
08. Dream Boat
09. Thorn Tree
10. Earth Move
11. Devil Song
12. White Bird
Run Time: 51:29