The Finest Example Is You
here may not be a better time than now for this album. The hangover from dance punk fever has subsided (and if it hasn’t, it probably should have), more electro-influenced pop music is getting greater attention (see: Annie, Robyn, and the like), and albums are catching flack for being danceable but not listenable and vice versa. The climate is ripe for a band like the Burnside Project to jump into the fray and give us something we didn’t even know we were looking for, a good and versatile indie electro-pop album—The Finest Example Is You.
Album opener “Sign Of Perfection” starts us in the direction that we will travel for the duration: forward, upward, and into the light. Richard Jankovich’s, Gerald Hammill’s, and Paul Searing’s (along with drummer Ray Ketchem, who bangs The Project through a half-dozen tracks) instruments and vocals bounce off each other to strike the perfect summer-y tones (making the song aptly titled). “And So It Goes,” the album’s first single, keeps us moving with its obvious nod to the DFA-style groove (complete with a healthy dose of cowbell). Unlike Murphy and Goldsworthy productions, however, Burnside lets the sunshine of pure pop ecstasy flow freely. Even a track like the bouncy “Our Surprise Decision” juxtaposes its deeper synths with an optimistic six-string riff to avoid succumbing to the darkness.
The real key to the success of the sound of this album lies in the band’s reliance on the guitar, and not the beat, to keep the energy in their hooks. This is never more apparent than on the standout “One on One,” where such transparent lyrics like “If what you get is what you see / Then I’ve got everything I need” are swept aside by the giddy guitars and handclaps of the chorus. Some songs, like “Start Again,” don’t even give the lyrics a chance to be analyzed because we are already hooked by the musical arrangements. That track, in fact, is actually the album’s most pleasant surprise, seamlessly blending its dawn-awakening hooks with noisier synths and a live drum / drum machine blend. This is the kind of music that Ratatat might make if they had a vocalist, stuck to the guitars, turned up the bpms, and smiled once in a while.
Though Burnside Project had a notably great single with 2003’s “Cue The Pulse To Begin,” this is the best material they have released to date. The group has finally found just the right mix to simultaneously get asses moving and lips grinning—no small feat.
Reviewed by: Matt Sheardown
Reviewed on: 2006-02-08