Reviewed by: Samuel Bangs
There is always going to be a rock-shaped hole in radio land that needs to be filled and any band that attempts to fill that hole with themselves is a brave one – at best you become the Foo Fighters (where it’s unclear exactly whether you became the mainstream, or the mainstream became you), and at worst, well Nickelback – the most turgid, lowest common denominator rock’n’roll corporate record companies ever assaulted our intelligence with. Bands that take their cues from these empty vessels of dumb and vapid (looking at you Five Seconds Of Summer) get away with their infuriating ignorance by being young, and pretty, and dumb, and vapid themselves. And in the time it takes everyone to forget their terrible music (which holds absolutely no value beyond some kind of quaint nostalgia), they’d have already made their millions and moved into judging reality television talent contests (hello, Madden brothers). But as the Foo Fighters and Nickelback can attest, why bother with interesting career arcs when you can just keep on giving the people what they want? The trick here is to Know Your Product, children, and to repackage subtly enough each time to convince Your Public that what they’re getting is not quite the same as last time, but more or less just a variation of the same thing.
What I’m getting at is: corporate rock can be a dead-end career move. And it takes a brave bunch of souls to want battle against that, revive it, revitalise it, remake it in their own image, and I think that’s what Silent Deeds are trying to do on the first EP. It’s a noble battle, and maybe one they’ve not quite pulled off entirely, but there are enough interesting and creative elements contained within their Desert Sounds EP that suggest they might yet.
They’re certainly a band that are eager to establish themselves to an audience beyond The Bird, or The Rosemount Hotel, and I applaud that ambition. Sometimes bands can be a little too insular and comfortable in their niche to want to paint with the bold strokes required to appeal to a mass audience. The whole “world coming to your art” doesn’t happen unless you make some concessions (hell, even Nirvana set out to make ‘Nevermind’ a record that would appeal outside their own scene). Silent Deeds are bold from the get go, and they more or less fall flat on their face because of it – ‘Rusty Chair’ is probably the song least representative of the band’s strengths. It’s tries to be a touch too clever – what with the clunky tempo change and the laconic lyrical drawl – and instead comes off trying a touch too hard.
But, it does get better. ‘Searching’ is a gorgeous ballad evoking all the mysteries of smoke and mirrors, whilst tempering the balance between earnest and heartfelt without feeling overwrought. Between the chiming guitars and the pulsating of the rhythm section, Silent Deeds achieve lift off by the time the chorus hits, and I’ll be damned if this doesn’t stir the collective fist pumping, finger pointing reaction that dwells in all of us when we’re affected by those objects of mass adulation, those anthems. ’Searching’ is my pick as the song most likely-to, and I do hope it does, because it’s a song that touts that thing we all need a little bit more of: hope.
Of course, if Silent Deeds were REALLY bold they would have called their EP ‘Searching’, rather than the vaguely enigmatic, coyly U2-referencing ‘Desert Town’. Because elsewhere, the band do really sound like they’re searching for something they still haven’t quite found. ‘The Darkness of the Night’ uses a slightly sinister rhythm to contrast the melancholy prettiness of it’s guitar line to reasonable effect, before devolving a little too closely to a Foo Fighters breakdown – throat curdling “ALRIGHT!” and all. But again, redemption is close at hand, because ‘Desert Town’ lifts us up on a wave of acoustic guitars and ghostly backing vocals, highlighting the band’s versatility as song craftsmen, and illuminating Silent Deed’s potential as a bold and viable rock band.
And that might be the most exciting thing about Silent Deeds – their potential. Like I said, there’s always gonna be that rock-shaped hole in radio land, and Silent Deeds certainly appear to have the scope, and the ambition to fill it – and as they continue to build and hone their song craft they can only become more and more formidable. I’ll just be hoping that with that potential, they engage a bit more sense of adventure.