“Where’s My Elvis?” so sing The Wildhearts on “Vanilla Radio”. I’ve always taken the song to be a rebuke to the bland, a call for originality.
I was talking to a friend the other day at a gig and we’d just seen a support band that – again to quote The Wildhearts – was best summed up as “look here comes another one, that sounds just like the other ones” and with the greatest of respect to them, they sounded like every other band you could hear all day on Planet Rock (and probably do, if you listen to the station, which I have to be honest I don’t).
And that’s not to knock any of the new breed either. There are some good – and a couple of great – bands in there, with some great songs, but it’s safe, its classic rock that they heard from their parents.
Where’s the band that takes that, messes with it and does something a little bit different. Or, as I said at the start: where’s the end to the Vanilla?
Well, here’s a start anyway. Liverpool based four-piece Novacrow clearly have a different idea of rock n roll. Before a minute of “Fever Swamp” is done, there’s been hints of Alice Cooper, White Zombie, a sleazy side and male and female vocals.
And if that all sounds like it shouldn’t work, then believe me, it does.
Their lyrics also hint at horror and have an unsettling turn or two. And on “Laughing Gas” so do the rhythms, they are a world away from what you might expect.
The pick of the bunch, as it happens, is the title track. Genuine originality is hard to find, but not here. Dealing with a heist, when Kitty Staunton sneers. “if you mess this up for me, I promise I will kill you” in the first verse, and “I get 95% cos this was my idea” in the second, you almost believe her.
“Lab Rat” has a kind of urgency that Marilyn Manson used to have at his best, and the chorus “I am just a lab rat” is not quite correct, because I wouldn’t like to be the one to tell these four what to do.
If there’s been a feeling of “anything goes” throughout this, then that is only amplified by the last song. “Are You Happy?” comes on like a nursery rhyme, but if it is it’s like a nursery rhyme in hell. “Are you happy, truly happy?” is a question that you’ll end up considering before the end. And you’re meant to, as well.
A more interesting EP would be hard to find. Novacrow are hard to pin down, but that’s the point. They didn’t want to be just A.N Other rock band. “Criminal Mastermind” is the proof.