[CD Review] Paramount Styles, 'Failure American Style' (Konkurrent)

Back in the '90s, Girls Against Boys were one of those bands that had a perfect career arc of sorts—indie cred galore, a string of brilliant albums on a respected indie label (Touch and Go), a sound that could best be described as punk/industrial/funk/death grooves for the people who made fun of lounge lizards and—wouldn't you know it!—a major-label album that sucked. D'oh!

Girls Against Boys are more on hold than broken up, so among other things, lead growler/master of "fuck you" sass Scott McCloud has decided to take a calmer approach on his debut under the Paramount Styles name. The song titles retain certain distinguishing characteristics such as "AllEyesAreOnYouNowMyPet" and "Drunx, Whores & MZK People," but hearing acoustic guitars, plenty of piano and easygoing riffs, and a gentler air of contemplative observations (especially on the latter song) are definitely new. Thankfully (one hopes), humanity has reached a state at which going that route isn't seen as selling out or going soft, and if people do try that approach with you about this album, laugh at them loudly before hacking into their bank account (if you're into that).

Failure American Style is more of a stylistic patchwork than simply Girls Against Boys go unplugged, in any event—and sometimes to surprising effect. "Hollywood Tales 2" is a ghostly kind of Sonic Youth tribute, "Total Trash" crossed with "Rain on Tin" and classic rock, an approach revisited later with "These Starry Nights." McCloud sometimes aims for the perfectly understandable, and at others for the kind of murky threat with which he made his name, but the generally brisk, sometimes skeletal arrangements take precedence throughout. There's even a mournful instrumental that should soundtrack whatever midlife-crisis movie will be made for the generation of (former) alternakids, wherever they are.

 
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