The Nashville four-piece, Step Sisters, make a bid to revive American grunge on their debut EP…
It is fair to say that grunge has possibly had the greatest impact on rock music over the past two decades. It has become the foundation stone for what rock is and most of today’s masterpieces are owed to the simplicity of the 3 chord combination.
However, despite the airs and graces of such an influential genre, it is not always best to replicate it so doggedly in one’s debut EP. It’s not that Step Sisters have not displayed promises of flare or quality; it’s just that when they fail to display such promise, they sound very much like a crap Nirvana and no band should be compared to another’s dying after thought.
Opener Vox Pop gives Thick a soured reputation which it finds it hard to escape from. It is truly hard to express what this track lacks and why it, essentially, threatens to ruin the rest of the record. In essence it feels like a filler track, like a limp musical jumble that can be squeezed out when a band feels like it needs another track. The riffs sound weak and lack any kind of impact and as a result the song waddles, rather than erupts, into life. Additionally, the overall low-fi glaze of the band’s sound does nothing but exacerbate this issue.
This limp opener is only remedied by third track Nerve War. A ballsy, bass heavy and head banging rocket is bound to compensate for a song that sounds like a wet flannel hitting a wall. It’s well controlled, musically tight and lead by a bass line strong enough to beat Conner McGregor (too soon?) It controls the pace of the song, rapidly moving in and out of the chorus with ease. Not only is this song explosive and impactful it’s able to throw in a beautifully crafted solo that compensates the muscular bass. Maybe the chorus is a little too similar to Nirvana’s In Bloom but we can always let them off for that.
Undoubtedly it is the lead single which swoops in to rescue this EP from the realms of mediocrity. Dumb Love, Step Sisters shining light, manages to keep the low-fi feel of the bands instrumentation whilst injecting a dollop of fuzzy grunge to the guitars. The melody is ramped up and what we are presented with is a graceful, yet pacey, instrumental introduction which flows nicely into the opening verse. It feels right, it feels controlled and it feels like an expression of what the American’s are truly capable of. It is the first song which really sees frontman Clint Wilson make full use of his vocal range, whilst the rest of the EP is content to compliment a lazy drawl, Dumb Love is eager to prove that this band has some serious pipes.
At the end of the day it’s a debut effort from the quartet and it’s certainly not a bad effort, not by a long shot. The Tennessean’s appear to put as many good songs as they do average ones on this record and it’s the fact that there is clear evidence that they can do better which frustrates a listener beyond belief. In fact it’s a testament to the Grunge rockers that they are able to carry Thick off on just two tracks. Let’s hope for more next time.
Best lyric: ‘I’ll break my heart, so it feels used’ (from ‘Dumb Love’.)
In one line: Potential to burn.