November 1, 2002

Test Spin: Pinwheel

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Pinwheel, out of Who Cares, California, make the perfect soundtrack for those times when you don’t feel like listening to music. Trouble Doll is a collection of the band’s cardboard-thin rock meditations on being a loser, and it will leave your thoughts as quickly as it leaves your CD player (should it, God-forbid, find its way there). The amateurishness of this surfy/punky outfit is marginally disguised by bop-worthy pacing, sticky guitar riffs and energetic percussion. But listen closely (or at all) and discover that “singer” John Surge frequently whines like Joey Ramone through a straw, the lyrics are asinine at their most inspired, and, worst of all, any sense of fun seems artificial and forced. A rehash of English Beat’s “Save it for Later,” a prototypical fun ’80s song, turns into plodding ska mush, and it is still the catchiest track on the record.

Pinwheel seem content to coast by on their retro, Urge Overkill stylings, made particularly grating by their lack of ideas and musical ability. Though “Anyway” is an endearing little ditty, it is thoroughly lacking in anything resembling innovation or character. And let’s face it, every neighborhood garage band in America has one decent song. Pinwheel is a garage band without a personality, and it should be a band without a record contract as well.

Archived article by Dan Schiff