Christ knows, you can’t just be indie any more. Gone are the days of four chords, wafty singer, first album that sounds like The Cure doing Foo Fighters, strong and loyal fanbase, duet with Paul Weller, large cheque, cheers. These
days you need a gimmick; whether it’s sex, drugs, bloopy between-song bubble noises, Christianity, a freakish similarity to The Waterboys or a comedy hat.
So here we find My Vitriol completing their pretty-decent-actually debut album and having a gander at what they have achieved. It is lush, it is rugged, it is aching, it is… fuck it, it’s The Cure doing Foo Fighters: guitars soaring like hang-gliders, vocals whining like the distant slaughter of pigs, drums plodding like Ann Widdecombe on a donkey ride. It’s genetically designed to give Steve Lamacq an erection at 500 paces. But if they’re going to go head to head with the Lowgolds of this world they need a gimmick sharpish, and involuntarily calling Crashland a bunch of c***s every time singer Som Wardner sees
a Dictaphone doesn’t count.
My Vitriol thought long, My Vitriol thought hard, My Vitriol thought SHOEGAZING! Brilliant! They would take their vibrant, punkish, Smashing Pumpkins-ish Big Choons like ‘Losing Touch’ and ‘Grounded’ and bung on enough ‘echoey guitar shimmers’ (© [I]NME [/I]circa 1991) to make them sound like four goons from the Home Counties wanking off on a flange pedal! Barman! Pints of Carling Ethereal all round!
Pity, because when My Vitriol forget to be pretentious and arrogant and push the hard-rockin’ pedal to the scorch-stained metal – on ‘Always: Your Way’, ‘Cemented Shoes’ and ‘Falling Off The Floor’ – they’re among the most compulsive rock bands this country has produced since the Manics turned wuss. They’re Buffalo Tom mid-stampede, Hole gargling testosterone. So it’s a mystery why they insist on pissing on their own fairly substantial chips with the kind of noodly auditions for 4AD that blight the excruciating ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Taprobane’, let alone piss around pretending to be Slipknot in the one-year-past-its-tell-by-date joke that is ‘C.O.R. (Critic Orientated Rock)’. Look, you wanna be critic orientated in 2001, you gotta be the fucking Strokes. So Christ, lads, pop another anti-psychotic and let it go.
But that’s My Vitriol’s downfall: they’re too uptight, too self-conscious, full of sound and fury but signifying… well, indie, pretty much. The finest line here is the one between effortless thrash-pop and Slowdive’s arse, and My Vitriol just tripped over it. They’re The Cure doing Foo Fighters, but they think it’s rocket science. And arrogance was never the most attractive gimmick.