How often have you read about this band or that being touted as ‘the next big thing? The music industry of course couldn’t function without the ‘hype machine’ but more often than not the machinery breaks down dramatically and the band never fulfil their promise.
So I’m certainly not going to promote Toronto’s MODERN SUPERSTITIONS as being in that category. But by f**k me, they’re good! Excellent, in fact – one of he best, if not THE best new band I’ve heard this year!
‘All The Things We’ve Been Told’ EP comprises six tracks spanning twenty minutes. Each track is sufficiently different in content, but succeeds in retaining a definitive style and delivery that stamps the band’s own identity.
OK – so the intros and rhythm on a couple of songs flash up the words ‘Vampire Weekend’ in my head, but there is far more substance to MODERN SUPERSTITIONS and not an ounce of ‘twee’ in their DNA. There is a confident swagger about their music and a maturity that belies their teenage years shines through. And yet it all seems so relaxed. There is no sense of them trying to push any boundaries, to take their songs some place they have yet to visit.
This is most true with the vocal performance of singer Nyssa Rosaleen. Not that this will mean much to many readers, but her tone and inflection seems to (obviously coincidently) combine the talents of Glasgow band Astral Planes’ vocalist Jen Paley and Bec Newman from the now defunct Cardiff band, The Hot Puppies. (Not for Loud Horizon the lazy ‘high profile’ comparisons, oh no, no, no! It may come as a surprise to some writers, but not every female vocalist sounds like or takes inspiration from Karen O!) What I mean is that Nyssa has the ability to swing between late Seventies New York scene ‘cool’ and a more modern, classical style.
Opening song ‘Go-Between’ (see video below for a live performance) is very much bass-led and bouncy with nice little guitar hooks. The vocals are clear, strong, melodic but with a little bit added growl at points, giving off just the right amount of ‘attitude.’ ‘Visions Of You’ has a very familiar initial bassline – like some Sixties soul song, perhaps? And when the chorus comes in, I defy anyone of a certain age (or has recently been to a wedding party) not to think of ‘Come On Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners!
‘Everything That Is Not Mine’ sees the band take a little ‘breather’ from the early pace they set, although the intensity builds through the song, dropping and building again. Nyssa’s voice ranges from almost ‘polite’ shouting, to smooth and velvety.
‘Beck And Call’ rather ironically reminds me of Bec Newman from The Hot Puppies, especially so at the chorus. The vocals are high toned, crystal clear and with just that ever so slight tremolo. Again, the song has an infectious bounce, and the ‘Vampire Weekend’ reference pokes its head through again with some of the guitar lines playing over the rhythm section.
‘Love That Beats My Heart’ is a bit more strident in attitude and delivery, veering more towards a pop-punk sensibility, while closer ‘Mercy Line’ starts out more as a little rocker – perhaps with Country Rock influences – and a Sixties style ‘doo wop’ harmony popping up mid-song. It’s quite a fascinating mix of styles.
This is one mightily impressive debut. MODERN SUPERSTITIONS have the look; they have the tunes; they have my support.
Goddamn! Maybe they just WILL be ‘the next big thing!’
(Released through Pink Noise / Last Gang Records on 18th October 2010)
(10 / 10)