There are different kinds of eccentric bands - the parody and weird bands like Ween or Beck or They Might Be Giants, and there are the faster, heart attack drumming sort schooled by the likes of Mr. Bungle and methamphetamine. Detroits Child Bite are somewhere in the middle ground of this movement. They play eclectic music, often at a fast pace, but they dont thrive on mathematical tempo changes or nichey, in-joke lyrics. The simplest, yet quite vague, explanation might be to call them nerd rock - the band has fun without succumbing to any particular genre, all while their sound gleams of Devo. If you dont feel this is an accurate label, read their press sheet and tell me how many allusions you counted to classical mythology.
There are pieces of art rock, math rock, and hints of surf throughout the record, with the bands predominant sound revolving around spindly guitars from Norton and Knight and quirky, warbly vocals on behalf of Knight. He sounds something like Les Claypool doing a Jello Biafra imitation - and its not pretty. The delivery itself is okay, but Knights voice just doesnt appeal. The vocals knock Fantastic Gusts of Blood down a peg - even the backing vocals annoy me - but the instrumentation and variety still keep it interesting. And his singing isnt that bad. After a couple of listens I found myself almost enjoying it.
Almost all of Child Bites songs are in the three minute range, yet they all sound different and complete. The shortness keeps them from taking the progressive/experimental road, and it really sounds like Child Bite knows what they are doing when crafting a song. The horns are constantly active and enjoyable and the keyboards and weird percussion also play to good effect. Theres a lot of instrumentation, with most of the variation coming from the use of rock horns - most of which is given a complementary role. Only in Jewels Rules do the horns come across as cheesy, reminding me of 1980's sax rock. Overall, I think Devo may be the best description I can come up with, but think with live instruments in place of synthesizer, and a little more rocknroll oomph to their work. It may be nerdy at its core, with shades of circus music in The Rainbow Church, but its also got some serious hooks, energy, and some pent up frustration that underlies the silliness.
6.5 / 10
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