Carney are parading their goods in all the right ways. They look like a rock band, they sound like a rock band, and they’re probably just as cool as your typical, young LA rockers. Laid back and carefree, despite some melancholic vocals delivered in the most tragic and withering way possible, watching these guys perform in a live acoustic video from SXSW sure stamps you with the effect of that underground indie appeal. Tight clothes, slick haircuts and plenty of style alone don’t comprise the music most indie fans are looking for though, so Carney’s audience might end up being slightly outside the scene. Fairly enough, these shallower traits are fronted with pride everywhere else in the realm of starving artist bohemians where so many of our favorite sounds come from, but swag points alone don’t make a band when what your money’s looking for might be substance. To an extent there’s a necessity for these things in the genre of indie rock, but what any respecting listener is looking for is a justification to the moves.
The band plays off the name of lead singer Reeve Carney in their video for the big single “Love Me Chase Me” off the new record out May 11th, Mr. Green Volume 1, and the reoccurring theme chosen seems to be the curious sway of ye olde carnivale. I like the video instantly, because Evan Rachel Wood is in it. In fact, her face is painted right away on the screen, and being a young male my attention is warranted. But the impression made leaves slow, syrupy, and cold as the rest of the song is played, and you realize what’s really going on is a seductive, hands-held merry-go-round by Carney and the band, and certainly nothing visceral. Image is extremely vital to this concoction, but the cherry-on-top doesn’t make the ice cream.
You can expect to keep feeling this light, floating sensation as the carousel turns and the album jumps from pop-by-numbers 60s dazes such as ‘Mr. Green’ and ‘There She Goes’ to the bluesy, simply-worded lamentations of ‘Nothing Without You,’ to the unexpected and quick-stepped French swing of ‘Amelie.’ In fact, the last mentioned was my favorite track. The light, jazzy tone and whimsical twirl of the guitar in the first half of the track is ensnaring, and the tone of all instruments involved is mint, but ultimately the song is ruined by an explosion of dissonant guitar-sweeping towards the middle of the song. Perhaps they ran out of cute French scales to use, but the real destroyer is the emptiness of the lyrics, as in most tracks. I really wanted to like a few of these tracks for the simple, undemanding pop that Carney’s Mr. Green Volume 1 is, but the hard rhyme of every line’s last word of the ABAB rhyme scheme is distracting.
A lot of pop bands know when lyrical fluff is lacking to keep repeating the same lines. Hit singles have topped the charts for ages on this principle, but it doesn’t make much headway when there’s no fire to begin with. The production is fantastic, the dudes are set to slay every woman in LA with good looks and charm, Spin loves them as one of the “hottest bands at Lollapalooza,” and Entertainment Weekly dubbed Reeve Carney one of the “top Rising stars of 2010.” But there’s no soul. I don’t believe Carney, and I’m not buying any of their cotton candy. They could make it with a select and defined group of pop fans, who are able to look over all of the average music snob’s railings, but they’re going to have to spend some more time on the streets, in their tears, and in the bottom of that bucket to drive out the screaming demon that can connect with a headphones-and-CD listener a world away. Until Carney knows the bane and the blessing of their fellow successful artists and puts it in their music for the world to see, prize-seekers will hesitate at the chance to buy the record.
SKOPE out the buzz for yourself on the myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/carneytheband. Perhaps you’ll be enchanted to look past the details on the first shot at stardom from the LA newcomers Carney, on Mr. Green Volume 1, out May 11th on Interscope.
By: Sean Flynn[Rating: 2.5/5]