It seems The Marlenes are surfing the wave of cutesy-retro revival in their debut album Crawl Out Your Window, but it’s not as exciting as it should be. The Australian three-piece’s album is not exactly style over substance; it’s more a case of muted brilliance. There’s plenty to like about it, not a lot to love about it, and a whole lot of missed potential from this debut, though it does bode fairly well for potential future releases.
There are certainly some standout tracks, leading single ‘My Blue Eyes’ is a reasonably energetic effort, with ‘Simple For You To Say’ representing the opposite end of the spectrum, a dawdling yet pleasant track which shows the band are certainly capable of writing good songs. The problem with Crawl Out Your Window, though, is not necessarily a lack of talent, or even particularly bad songwriting – it’s an issue of a lack of true creativity, a dearth of originality that it’d be unfair to attribute simply to the band themselves, but perhaps more accurately the scourge of many emerging bands looking to make a name for themselves.
Playing it safe is arguably the worst sin a band can commit, though it’s understandable from a first full length release. However, it’s frustrating in The Marlenes’ case – as previously mentioned there’s clearly no lack of songwriting talent, particularly concerning some of the intelligent vocal melodies and instrumental interplay, seemingly watered down by a desire to be inoffensive, pedestrian, in order to build up a fanbase that can then propel the band to dizzier heights.
It’s a shame the band haven’t challenged themselves a little more on this record, it seems to lack an energy that is required so badly from a debut release. Easy (yet onerous) comparisons to The Strokes can be made, though to draw such similarities is difficult when, even on The Strokes’ formidable debut album Is This It?, Casablancas and co. managed to inject a fervent energy into the most apathetic sounding garage-rock musings. It’s this sense of urgency, energy that is lacking from the album – though again, the band are clearly capable of writing good songs, the entire record is all a bit fuzzy, and not in a Ty Segall-esque good way (as I’m sure you’re aware, he’s a pretty energetic little fella when he wants to be), but fuzzy in a way that sounds like the verve levels of the entire band have been taken down a few notches.
A vocalist who clearly has potential seems to be tied down by a musical style which is all on one level, there’s no room for his voice to really break out and whip us all into a frenzy, which is what this band should be doing with their first full length album. Caution is not always a bad thing, but to quote Oscar Wilde, everything in moderation, including moderation. It’s not an issue to have a subdued, muted sound, but without any real semblance of vigour on the record, it lacks a certain dynamism that it’s crying out for.
It’s a decent first effort, but once more with feeling, please.