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  Alive on Departure  

Instant Camera


Wall To Wall Records

Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

Hands up: who likes The Damned? Or more specifically, the late 70's/early 80's Captain Sensible-led version of the band. Because if you do, then I'm sure that you're going to enjoy this debut album from Louisville band Instant Camera. I say this because the three excellent albums The Damned recorded during that period (Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Strawberries) certainly sound like an influence on this lot. And if you don't like those albums, well go to the back of the!!

Alive On Departure opens with Beyond Infinity. Whilst I can see why Instant Camera decided to open with it - it's got the sort of stomping 60's beat that The Doves do so well - the keyboards are just a tad too loud in the mix for my liking. After having this album on heavy rotation for some time now, I'd go as far as saying that it's my least favourite track. After that ,the album really kicks in for me, though. Another Suggestion (For White Noize) is excellent with its early Lords of the New Church-like feel and a fab, sinister sounding bassline. It also features a great grinding guitar sound, a lovely choppy Stooges keyboard, and the rather intriguing (if macabre!) question, "What's the point of listening when you're already dead?" The next track is almost as good though, as Dr Glass has great descending guitar lines, a similar rich organ sound that Deep Purple's Jon Lord used on Fireball, and the odd heartfelt scream which brings to mind Donald Ross Skinner's moment of glory on Julian Cope's Spacehopper.

Style Over Substance Abuse is maybe a bit throwaway, albeit in a most enjoyable punky, chanty kind of way, but the melodic Shadowman is excellent from the delicious intro onwards. Again The Damned come to mind as it's just the kind of tune that the good Captain is so good at coming up. And at the risk of labouring The Damned comparisons, Social Anxiety opens with a Love Song-like bass riff, whilst the keyboards bring to mind the early Stranglers.

But, as much as I liked the album up to this point, it gets even better from here on, with a great run of tracks beginning with the excellently titled Working Class Zero, which has a spacey, almost My Bloody Valentine feel. Existing To Cease follows with great clattery drums and riffing. And then, the best track of all for me, Terrorvision, with its balalaika intro and a great bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on Wire's classic Pink Flag LP. Alive On Departure ends with Hearing Is Disbelieving, which with an evil circus feel is reminiscent of The Damned's These Hands, and is possibly the only record ever that's made me think that there just aren't enough recordings with piano accordions and Jewish harps. Bizarrely, after all this, the chorus has a descending bassline that reminds me of Slade, though, as this is a band who spell Noise with a 'z', I guess we shouldn't be too surprised.

As I mentioned when I reviewed last year's superb Drowning Cupid album by The Orphins, which brought to mind early XTC, there's always a danger when quoting influences that the reader will dismiss the band as mere copyists. But, despite all the above comparisons, Instant Camera have put together an album that ultimately has its own sound. And its a sound I like a lot, full of boundless energy and Damned good tunes. Sorry. There I go again!!

So kids, your homework for this week is to go get this one. I'll test you in the morning...

Related Links:

Instant Camera's website.


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