I wish I had seen The Datsuns live before I heard their self-titled album, I really do. If that had been the case, what would now follow would be a review rolling in the appraisal that the New Zealand four-piece have enjoyed for the past six months.
Instead, I’m trying to picture myself in jam-packed sweatbox of a club with these 10 tracks blowing me away. And if it wasn’t for prior experience of the live/recorded differential of other bands, what I heard on my Walkman might be put into somewhat harsher words.
Ultimately, anything but a live experience of dirty, in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll like The Datsuns isn’t very enjoyable. Songs like “MF From Hell” is hardly what you would put on in the background whilst doing your household chores. Even a pre-party booze-up doesn’t seem to reach the raucousness of the atmosphere created. This music was made to be shoved down your throat by its creators from a matter of feet, but anything other than such a situation exposes some real weaknesses.
It becomes highly annoying when you realize the great majority of the songs have the same sub-five-word line structure; making it extremely hard to pay any attention to a word being said. Likewise, the songs rarely change pace from the headache-brewing romp.
It is remarkable then, that when the album peaks at “Harmonic Generator” that the band didn’t realize they had hit something good. By all means, this is one of the year’s best songs. It stands out as the track that wasn’t written around the noteworthy talents of the guitarists, and though it might sound peculiar, this works tremendously.
On too many other tracks it seems the guitarists have led the way in the recording studio with a frenzy of fret work, only to have frontman Dolf carelessly lay down the weak, halting, lyrics afterwards. With “Harmonic Generator” you’re given an attitude-filled, catchy song that the rest of the album should mold itself around, but doesn’t.
Here, the lyrics actually flow from line-to-line (“I’m gonna push that button, flick the switch today/ But you’ve got nothing I want, I got nothing to say/ It’s been 16 days since I’ve seen your ass, sent her to the city/ You think you’re high class”) and the song isn’t overridden with the words “baby” and “sugar” as many others are.
“In Love” comes closest to utilizing the successful formula of the aforementioned best song, featuring a1980’s new, romantic-esque female voice that is a much needed change up from Dolf’s hypo-yell.
The Datsuns’ attitude and energy alone would make them a great live act but these are not the attributes best presented in recording. It is undeniable that some of The Datsuns’ success is due riding into the music scene on the wave of multiple, outstanding bands with “The” in the title. The job now is to work out who is actually worth the hype and who will be forgotten in the next year. For The Datsuns, this may largely depend on how the public hears them first.
Archived article by Tom Britton