Sunday, January 3, 2010

CD Review: THE FLAIRZ - BLACK FOX (Lefroy Records / MGM)

Saturday, July 19, 2008 

It's hard to separate the band The Flairz from the ages of the members - anyone new to them finds out soon enough that all four are between 13 and 16. Were anyone to listen to this album not knowing their ages it would be branded as pedestrian oz rock by players who haven't progressed past their record collection. Their lyrics are totally fine for 15 year olds playing at being a grown up rock band, the songwriting is on a steep trajectory up from their early WAMI-winning track Sidewalk Surfer, and the whole album sounds like teenagers rocking out and having a good time, which is what they sound like they're doing.

Were they not so well connected to the local music industry it's unlikely the gear, the gigs, the studio time and the attention wouldn't be coming their way. Instead, they would be winning high school Battle Of The Bands competitions, making a garage demo and, in a few years time after some hard slog, probably a fantastic album. As it turns out this album is still a few years away and instead we have the (highly polished) demo. Clearly these guys and girls haven't found their own voice yet so when they mention their love of Cream, The Who, AC/DC and Dallas Crane (you can practically see the Kiss make up on the riffs from Bad Dream) it's them that you hear. In a School of Rock way this is totally fine; by-the-numbers big riff rock satisfies a lot of people (Jack Black included), and those people should be happy, especially seeing them live where it tends to work best, but as for the members themselves, given that they're a long way from finding out who they are as people, there's little real insight as to what's going on for them as people. We do learn about Dion Mariani's "good dream gone bad" on Bad Dream, that they hold Keith Richards in high esteem (first single Mr. Richards) and Scarlett Stevens' concerns on Pollution In The City which ain't 'bout noise pollution but, it seems, asthma. Musically it's her drumming that really shines - she makes a lot of noise for such a skinny-limbed girl and The Flairz really impress with their vocal harmonies which will only get better with time as their range increases, and that's where you can hear the influence of the guitarists' father Dom Mariani of The Stems, they're tough but bang on target. Maybe it's just me that would like to hear kids sing about being kids, as The Flairz do with wide-eyed wonder on their earlier song Speakerbox, included here on the bonus The Early Years 2003-2006 CD "It's a speakerbox, makes a lot of noise / It's a speakerbox yeah". Still, as a debut album, it's a document that they should be proud of for a long time.

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