Apache Beat - Last Chants
Underwhelming. Apache Beat's devastating single ‘Tropics’ raised hopes and pulse rate earlier this year, its sinewy trik-trak as lissome and lithe as we expect our NYC indie hopefuls to be. It was a ‘Maps’ for the new decade and Aussie singer Ilirjana Alushaj was our new Karen O, all raven tresses and legs and voice and legs. Hey, here at last was a new indie queen-elect, already causing a stir amongst the kind of US underground mags that posture as if they actually sell more than a dozen copies to young men in ill-fitting cardigans and Eric Morecambe specs.
This should have been everything but, almost shockingly, it’s barely something. Riven with a profoundly laboured MO, ‘Last Chants’ was never in with a shout. The shifting, pounding backbone of the album (drummer Neil Westgate’s superlative drumming) casts the generic methods of his bandmates into sharp relief. They’re all fur and feline, ultra sable but barely able. How cruel is that? It’s like Chris Stein taking a deep breath and going “You know what, Debbie? Love the hair and the ‘tude but girl, you sure can’t sing. Next!” Apache Beat had me on the edge, ready to tumble. But, cruelly, they ain’t up to it. Guitarist Phillip Aceto should be looking for his number on the touchline; didn’t record companies used to bin band members who weren’t much cop? If it’s unreasonable to expect artful outfits to be artfully directed a lá Nick Zinner or Will Gregory, it’s certainly not pushing it to expect a little variation beyond drearily simplistic spidery arpeggios all over the dang shop.
With The Raveonettes back in the lab, that luscious Tambourines CD finally worn out, a new blaze of buzzsaw black was just what the doctor ordered. But ‘Tropics’ and careering opener ‘Knives’ aside, this debut lacks personality as well as hooks, and there was every reason to expect so much more.