Gods Reflex - Scenes From a Motel Seduction
Over the past 8 months, I've seen Gods Reflex play upwards of a dozen
times. Each show, they seemed to have more and more new material to play
for the audience, and each song seemed to sound better than the one before
it. After each successive show, I got more and more anxious for their new
CD. All this built up to their release show at the Fireside Bowl on May
25th, which I was in attendance for. I was psyched to the point of
ridicule by my friend for their set, as I knew it would be great. What
transpired was a fairly sloppy, uninspired set with about 2/3 of the songs
being halfway-mediocre and not being even remotely recognizable to me.
Those songs were labeled as "new" and they were on the new album,
apparently. I stood scratching my head, wondering where all incredible
songs I had heard months prior had gone. I still bought their album,
hoping there might have been a mistake. Here is what I received.
The album starts off with "How I learned to unwind," which sounds a bit
like Karate with faster drums. Nothing too original, and I don't
particularly care for it as an album opener. Zach's vocals immediately
sound less Jawbreaker-esque, which is a plus. These guys need to come into
their own. The 2nd song is a re-recording of "Careering" from their
Shifting 7" on Rebound Records. As it happens with most bands who choose
to re-record a 7" song for an album, the 7" version is much superior than
the album verison [the most notable case of this is the Get Up Kids
re-recording of "I'm a Loner..." on their new LP]. The song just seemed to
lose its power and speed with the new recording. "Blessings" is next, and
it's a fairly good mid-tempo rock song with a nice instrumental breakdown
which will get the heads bobbing. "Put down that guitar" is next, and
immediately gets an Alkaline Trio vibe attached to it, until their little
guitar arpeggios kick in. The song then proceeds to the chorus, where the
music sounds identical to Dynamite Boy's song on the "There Is A Light"
compilation [the song's name escapes me]. "Shifting" starts off quietly,
with distortion and drums coming in about halfway through. The song just
doesn't seem to have any energy to it, although it seems like they're
We're now halfway through the album and so far there have not really been
any standouts. Let's see what tracks 6-10 give us.
"Mayday" starts things off right, with a nice solid beat behind it and a
somewhat-catchy chorus. It also contains Phil's best backing vocals to
date, as A)you can actually hear what he's saying, and B)it is IN TUNE. My
biggest problems with Phil's vocals, both on CD and live, is that he seems
to not care. To me, I don't want to hear wrong notes in the backing vocals
when I know what they should sound like. Don't be sloppy. Moving on, "Why
I Hate Texas" is the 2nd re-recorded song, this one being already on the
"Pocket Bomb" compilation on Law Of Inertia Records.
It was a good
song on the comp, and it stood out over some of the others [due to the glut
of mediocre bands on it, such as the Wayouts], but it sounds just OK here.
Had it been on their first album, this would probably be considered one of
the "throwaway" tracks. "Monologue..." is next, and frankly, it is boring.
The bar chords, the palm muting, the song structure [soft-loud-soft-etc.]
just sound like a lot of the songs already on the album. I know these guys
are better than this, so why is it on here? "Rainbows and Frogs" starts to
wind the album down, being the second slow song in a row. It sounds pretty
and all, but I've heard it done many times before by better bands. The
song makes 3 1/2 minutes seem like an eternity, with the same guitar part
just repeating over and over and never picking up. "Of Self and Promise"
finishes off the album, and it give the album a nice recovery. It's a good
3 minute poppy song as only Gods Reflex can do, although the chorus sounds
EXACTLY like a Reggie & The Full Effect song [of all bands], with some of
the words and almost all of the music lining up perfectly. Zach sings
"What will they say / when I'm not around? / I'll never know" as Reggie
sings "What's your name / Now you're all alone / You'll never know" [or
something to the effect of that, as I can't find the exact lyrics]. That
was a bit of a letdown, GR are more than competent as songwriters, and they
don't need to copy someone like that, intentionally or not.
Overall, this is probably the biggest musical disappointment I will
experience this year. I heard Gods Reflex play plenty of material that
wasn't on this album; where did it all go to? It seems like this was
thrown together halfheartedly, and this band is better than that. The only
real saving grace of this album is their lyrics. Zach is truly one of the
best songwriters in the independant scene in my mind, and he needs to get
the credit he deserves. Other than that, the only really interesting thing
about this album is a fact I learned from my friend after she looked at it
closely: the motel on the cover is the same one her old boyfriend and her
would frequent to have sex. That fact honestly is more interesting than
the majority of this album. I'll take "A Brief Lesson In Affection" any day.
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