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Back to the futureThe Cinematics - A Strange Education
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 2, 2007
Review by Tony BonyataWith sweeping orchestration, thespian tendencies in the lyric department and a grand, if not less immediate, vision then their Glasgow brethren Franz Ferdinand, The Cinematics is about as apt a moniker as you could conjure up for a this Scottish quartet.
On their full-length debut A Strange Education the foursome follow the late '70s / early '80s post-punk, New Romantic movement that first swept through the U.K. with bands like Joy Division, New Order, Japan and Ultravox. Not that these guys are anywhere near the first to latch onto this wave of nostalgia. Bands such as Interpol, She Wants Revenge and Editors have all already turned in their own fantastic reinterpretations of this decidedly cold, angular, once-futuristic sounding style of music.
But despite The Cinematics not mining any new gold on their first outing they've at least delivered a pleasing effort dominated with shimmering guitars, passionate vocals dredged from the gut and calculated, geometric rhythms. Lead vocalist / guitarist Scott Rinning's vocals warble nervously throughout the indie-pop rock of "Chase," while he coldly moans over Ramsay Miller's soaring lead guitar lines on "Break." A welcome addition to the mix is their silky cover of Beck's "Sunday Sun." On it the Glasgow quartet turn Beck's haunted downtrodden version into something altogether more spirited and lively. The song that turns out to be round peg in a square hole here is the folkier, acoustic hidden bonus track "Home," which finds Rinning delivering his heartfelt vocals in a similar manner to a Bends-era Thom Yorke. Considering that the rest of the record is steeped in the past, the decision to relegate this odd-man-out of a track to a hidden song on the album seems obvious. But with a song as strong as this, they might do better to incorporate more of its type into future work - if only to avoid falling out of vogue once kids move onto the next retro movement.
There's probably no better song that encapsulates this band in the amber of a former time than their latest U.K. single "Keep Forgetting," which, with it's mathematical equation of a guitar-line and sing-along chorus ripped straight out Big Country's songbook, can't help but conjure up the accompanying vision of an early '80s MTV music video - overproduced and reeking of cheese. Thankfully for kids today, however, they can hear this slightly updated style of retro music on its own merits without the mental images of dated visuals mucking things up.
The Cinematics will be appearing Tuesday, April 3rd at The Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI. (414) 342-7283
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