The cherubic [B]Ben Smith[/B] wants to rock'n'roll. School's no fun and no-one wants to listen to sixth-form poetry unless it's set to music....

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London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

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London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

The cherubic Ben Smith wants to rock’n’roll. School’s no fun and no-one wants to listen to sixth-form poetry unless it’s set to music. But he’ll make them listen. After all, he’s got a guitar, he’s got a grunge pedal and he’s gonna play all that unhappiness out of his skinny little frame. He’s in [a]Stony Sleep[/a], and that difficult second album, ‘A Slack Romance’, is teenage angst through and through.

[a]Stony Sleep[/a] have upped the Bratpop stakes. Since the limp indie-rock of 1996’s ‘Music For Chameleons’, they’ve recruited White Zombie‘s mixer, grown some Korn-esque dreadlocks and they’re heavy-riffing like it never went out of fashion.

Sadly, though, imitation seems to be the order of the day. ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘She’s A Honey’ ape the thunderous dynamic of Black Francis just once too often, and ‘Khartoum’ leafs at leisure through the lyric-sheet of Kurt without ever quite striking an empathetic note. ‘A Slack Romance’ is competent pop-metal from beginning to end, but, frankly, give or take the odd sensitive string section, it’s not a million miles from Silverchair.

While [a]Stony Sleep[/a] can adequately plumb the depths of misery, they seldom articulate what the rest of the post-grunge hordes cannot. And that’s the saddest thing.