The High Dials
War of the Wakening Phantoms
/rainbow quartz; 2004/


Do you like jumping around and tossing your arms back and forth? Do you like stomping your feet and bobbing your head? All for no reason? Do you like muscular Brit-pop, herein known as Britcock-pop? Then you are going to love jumping around to The High Dials, reasons for doing so be damned.

Those of you familiar with my writing on Only Angels Have Wings may know by now that I absolutely, positively hate the fucking Datsuns (Worst Band Ever). The High Dials don’t rape the 70’s like that band but they do share something similar; an apparent lack of respect for genre. They pillage, and instead of 70’s cock-rock, The High Dials are pilfering late 80’s early 90’s Brit-pop. What’s more, they used to be known as The Datsons. Datsuns. Datsons. If ever there were an omen to me as a reviewer this would have been it.

I don’t want to discount the record completely; there are some cool sections on it. The ending of “Our Time Is Coming Soon” is pretty cool as the band freaks out in a rushing buildup of a coda. “Sick with the Old Fire” is also pretty catchy. There are other cool musical interludes on this disc but on the whole a lot of this stuff is instantly forgettable.

War of the Wakening Phantoms sounds great. It sounds authentic, just like the music of the period that the band is aiming to emulate. But it is not enough to sound like that music if the songs do not possess the same character (in memorable choruses or guitar squalls). The High Dials seem to throw in choruses and guitar squalls for no reason. It feels as if they created this music only to say “yeah, see, we can do it like them.” The album is full of sections that remind you of other bands; it’s as if The High Dials had a checklist with them in the recording studio. Also, this thing is just over an hour long. That’s an extra twenty minutes that I don’t need, especially in this case. By the end of the album you’ll have forgotten anything that you’ve just listened to. Maybe I’d be a bit more lenient if the band were actually British (they’re from Montréal). Get the new Doves album instead.

 - Andrew Iliadis

/october 2005/