1997, Music

Transmission by the Tea Party (1997 EMI)

It’s easy to rip on bands who rip off others. But when they rip off stuff you like, it’s significantly harder. I guess this sort of explains how the blogosphere etc can over-hype revivalist bands all the time when it might make no sense to the rest of us. If you like a genre enough, you often don’t care for originality.

So I used to be a huge Tea Party fan when I was younger, and I still like their first two albums and EP enough – though I should really adjust my ratings – because I like the bands they rip off: Zeppelin, Kaleidoscope – whether they know it or not – the Doors, etc.

But I can’t say that I like industrial music. Actually I just respect it, that’s about it. I even respect the sort pop-industrial which I’m sure most fans of “real” industrial cannot abide. But I have a great appreciation (if not great liking) for Trent Reznor’s production and arrangement abilities, like his sense of dynamics.

I think when a band takes such a left turn as the Tea Party do here, there is definite potential to amaze. I mean, if they had put together a really great industrial – or pop-industrial – album I would be fairly in awe despite my lack of love for the genre.

But that’s not what they did. This is basically sub-NIN. Moreover, it still contains enough traces of the band’s early years to remind you of the music you used to like. That reminder makes you think: “Why?”

If they had gone crazy into the genre, it could have really impressed. The bands that can put on genres like new clothes, and have you recognize them but not at the same time, those are the bands that should genre hop. The best early ’90s example I can think of this time (from a mainstream band anyway) would be U2’s Achtung Baby. Oh and then Blur did it later with their self-titled. That too.

But here, the combination of very mainstream rock music vaguely influenced by industrial (and it is very vaguely influenced by it) but with remnants of their old sound just sounds like radio rock of that day: i.e. post-grunge. And frankly, the band I remember loving in my late teens and early 20s was not one I thought capable of that watered down muck of a genre. But here they are.


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