I really like Dirtnap Records, but they can’t all be winners. The Splits start off II with a really positive vibe in “Rotten Me,” with a powerful and familiar rock ‘n’ rollin’ base behind music that’s emphatic and emotional. I really like the enunciation by singer Helena throughout this song.
Unfortunately, the majority of the record doesn’t hold up to the variables that are so strong in that first one. As a whole, the record stumbles and feels dull, the songs bleeding together without anything to carry them. It’s not all bad by a longshot. “I Know” is good because it returns to that emotive tone reflected in the opener, with a few ups and downs in the tempo along the way. Later, “Melody” starts out with some nice L7-reminiscent screams, but it somehow fades into an “ah-ah-ah” chorus that feels like a new song, losing the enthusiasm in the process. At its best, II pulls from classic era Joan Jett. It’s familiar, traditional rock’n’roll. It doesn’t break ground, but in Jett’s case, that swagger, that attitude, is what carries it to a new level. Here, it lacks that element. The vocals don’t show as much emotion, and the beat of many songs, such as “End Is Near” or “Death Song” just doesn’t go anywhere. It only takes a little more emotion, as in “You Don’t Get My Love,” to make it click more, but most of the time that doesn’t happen. The majority of II never jumps off the needle and it feels like if it could get that extra burst of energy it would really hit another level.
There are shades of other styles within, meaning this isn’t by the book r’n’r. “Two Faces” has some shoegazey otherworldliness, “You Don’t Get My Love” has some high octane New Wave pop, and “Melody” starts out with emphatic ‘90s screaming that gives way to a clean and crisp chorus. The guitars are clangy and energetic but during the chorus the music seems to fall into autopilot and loses that energy. In a nutshell, that happens throughout this record. It has its moments, but they never sustain.
6.5 / 10
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Posted March 26, 2015, 8:43 a.m.
Dirtnap Records will soon release an LP, II, from Finland's the Splits. The new album releases on April 21. Their first album was released by Germany's P. Trash.
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