The question of whether good old-fashioned, guitar-laden rock music is going to have another moment has been thrown about recently, but the spark does not seem to have gone out just yet.
“They say the kids don’t like rock ‘n’ roll anymore”, Public Access TV’s John Eatherly acknowledges on ‘End of an Era’, against a background of unmistakeably rocky guitars. He does not sound too put-off – he sees the challenge and takes it by the horns.
The result is a heavily-stylised debut album which stoically adheres to a retro aesthetic. With Never Enough, the band have abandoned the ambient synths that featured on earlier EPs, opting instead for melodic riffs and raucous hooks. ‘I Don’t Wanna Live in California’ is a tighter-produced reworking of EP song ‘Metropolis’, with the addition of a growling chorus and subtle bongos. ‘Evil Disco’ starts out with Keith Richards-esque guitars, before morphing into something much closer to The Cars.
Elsewhere, the interplay between Aird’s choppy guitar-work and Star’s drumming nods to The Ramones, Thin Lizzy and Transformer-era Lou Reed.
Distant vocals and loose harmonies characterise most tracks, particularly jukebox-perfect ‘Summertime’ and ‘Careful’, while the four-to-the-floor rhythm of ‘End of an Era’ and ‘In Love and Alone’ injects a disco feel into the mid-reaches of the album.
New York-born Public Access TV was courted by record labels and media alike when they barely had a Soundcloud set up, and their first gig was attended by the likes of Alexa Chung and Lindsay Lohan. Taking this, and the batting away of inevitable Strokes comparisons, into consideration, the band has done well to produce an assured, coherent first album. Being based in Manhattan, as opposed to Brooklyn, probably helped in distancing their sound from the zeitgeist and creating an authentic, sepia-toned style, but therein lies a problem: the album does not offer anything that was not sufficiently covered 35 years ago by the artists it emulates. Eatherly follows a well-trodden lyrical path which is fabulously vague and carefree, making for very listenable music, but at the risk of sounding like an empty throwback record.
Never Enough stares wistfully into the past, but if Public Access TV wants to bear the flag of a rock revival, it is going to need to keep one eye on the future.
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Photo: Drift Records