Album in Depth Reviewaday Marathon Polka Your Eyes Out: Schubert Dip by EMF

So far, we had 4 reviews of 4 bands that, although I’ve already heard about, I didn’t go after. This case is completely different. I never heard of EMF. So, forgive for the lack of information, as I will report only of stuff I find in the interwebz.

EMF means Epsom Mad Funkers. Bad sign. They are an UK Indie Dance Rock group… Indie Dance? Does that even exist? Holy crap, it’s the same subgenre of New Order. Fuck! Okay… the band almost didn’t get any recognition, releasing three albums: this one got a 3rd place on the UK charts… but the other two were flops. They try to get back over and over again, but it’s never noticeable… want to see? They got together in 2007 and disbanded in 2009… did you hear about it? Me neither.

I really don’t know if I like the cover. It’s a black and white graffiti and it really sticks outside of the crowd but… it can be also signs of a completely lazy train of thought. “We are underground, graffiti” already has been done… and better, by the way. And believe me: it’s their best cover, believe me. It’s the kind of cover that depends on who’s the judge. The longest song is the intro, “Children”, with 5:15, and the shortest is “When You’re Mine” with 3:22, totaling 44:25 at the end of the album. At least I won’t be willing to blow my brains out, as I was after Pump up the Jam.

As I stated before, it got as high as 3rd on the UK charts and 12th on the US charts… nothing to impressive, but at the same time, not bad. And by the way, my version is a Brazilian copy, so I don’t have the bonus that was on the Parlophone edition. So, after roughly 300 words, let’s get this over with: Schubert Dip by EMF.

1st track: “Children” – The album starts slowly with psychedelic crap and the sound of cars passing by, with some easy verses about children. But already I see a problem in this album, at the one minute mark into it: why the lead vocalist has this ambiguous voice? I mean, I know it’s a guy, but it could pass as a girl easily. I really didn’t like it. At the 1:00 mark, the song changes completely, with police sirens and a more rock oriented song that is quite enjoyable. The singing is annoying, the lyrics are repetitive and shallow, but the overall rock is not “dance” at all and is good, with some keyboards working it, as the song reminds me of something, but I can’t put my fingers on it. At some times, the song becomes chaotic and a bit of a nuisance to the ear, but it can be ignored for the “greater good”, even though there is a guitar solo that could be classified as unimaginative. The intro track doesn’t promise a brilliant album, but it also doesn’t promise a horrible album.

2nd track: “Long Summer Days” – The song gets a hell of a lot “boogier” and gets into a more soft Bon Jovi rock style that is, against all my beliefs, quite good. The song has one of the greatest riffs I’ve heard in a while (actually, now looking back, I haven’t heard a riff based song in a while… weird). The song has bad parts, definitely: they use electronic beats that could’ve been avoided, but then again, they had a DJ in the group, so that couldn’t pass unnoticed. It sounds a lot like Jane’s Addiction actually, or at least what I think is Jane’s Addiction, I heard little of them. It sounds a bit like Stop in some parts, but not in the major part of it. It has its ups and downs, but is definitely not a bad song: should be listened too.

3rd track: “When You’re Mine” – Whoa, now for something completely different. It’s definitely a more dance song, with lots of piano and electronic effects, but it’s definitely a good song. The lyrics are the typical “love to be” song, and it’s done nicely, no complaints on the lyrics department. The rhythm is catchy, the changes and breaks on the song work nicely; definitely a song that should’ve got a chance to be a single, but probably never saw the light of day, probably because the group didn’t get any second chances. To be fair, the song grew thin on me with the constant repeats that the job require, but I still remember that the first time I heard it, I thought it to be pretty bad ass.

4th track: “Travelling not Running” – Great title, great intro with surreal samples that would fit an Agatha Christie book, average song, unfortunately. It has an Eurythmics feel to it and the song is slow with a more of a dance feel than the previous song, but the song does not know what it want: at sometimes, it’s none in the least catchy and interesting, to have some stuff that really catch your ears. The lyrics are actually pretty poetic and may make your cup of tea, but it’s not exactly mine. There is a solo in there, but none of the instruments really get showcased… instead, we have a disc scratch repeating itself a top of the background of the song: kind of like “we wanted a solo, but this was all we could think of, sorry”. What killed this song was the lack of objectivity.

5th track: “I Believe” – The song has a seventies flare to it with a nineties arrangement, and it sounds so much like new wave, but without losing much of the rock and roll aspect of it all, with some cool back vocals and… resuming? I liked this one. The lyrics and metric is broken beyond recognition and the recording quality is not exactly the best out of there (I blame the producer), the lack of a bridge and a solo makes the song look kind of stale, but the music is enjoyable, in my opinion. Is it great? No, it’s just good in my opinion, as far as this album went.

6th track: “Unbelievable” – Maybe I’m the only guy that thinks it’s funny to have a song names unbelievable right after a song called I believe. Probably it was intentional, so maybe they’re glad that at least someone found that amusing. The song is the first one that sounds like what I would think indie dance music could be: the deadpan singing, the lots and lots of stuff in the background, including the electronic stuff and hip-hop oriented shtick and a sympathetic guitar. The chorus sucks, probably because Weird Al did it better, so the original falls in comparison. The singer can’t rap, but still he tries in this song.

7th track: “Girl of an Age” – Another song that sounds more like new wave, but again, it’s all from the start of the 90’s, when new wave was at its strongest. It has the feel of a ballad, based on keyboard, until the chorus, which has a “harder” feel to it. It has a Keane feel to it, but then again, Keane came ages after (I think). It is pretty bipolar, so I don’t really have anything great to say about it, as it is tamed and the only thing that brought my attention was a more usage of bass, even though if only for a minor section of the song. It’s a shame, really. The bridge is lame as it tries to be too much as the rest of the song, when a bridge shouldn’t try to do that.

8th track: “Admit It” – Fun song, but not enough to be excellent. The uninterested singing should be avoided when making songs like these because honestly, it doesn’t sound good. It’s like all the town is merry except Bobo the Clown, who is crying. It doesn’t fit at all. The song had a fun piano, a fun beat, a fun guitar, a fun rhythm, a fun lyrics and a bad, bad singing. If you are able to overlook that, which is not exactly impossible, it is a rather good song. It’s definitely one of the best songs out of the bunch, and it annoys the fuck out of me that Unbelievable, one of the songs that less impressed me on the album, was the single. Shame: this one is actually good.

9th track: “Lies” – It starts, I shit you not, with a sample by none other than Mark David Chapman reciting John Lennon. Talk about fucking bad taste: I mean, c’mon, Mark David Chapman reciting Lennon. It almost makes me want to turn the whole shit off, but I have a duty. Thank god the song is uninteresting, or I would have to listen to fucking Mark David Chapman every time I wanted to hear this tune. The problem, again, is the singing: the guy doesn’t sing, but they keep pushing him on. The whole song is actually good, including the bass, guitar and piano, that should be praised, but the singing sounds like he 1- doesn’t care and 2-doesn’t know how to sound interesting. It has a good solo, a good “keyboard” solo, but everything gets so ruined because of the singing, that starts to annoy me beyond belief. And to top all that, it’s Mark David Chapman reciting Lennon.

10th track: “Longtime” – The last song of the album comes with a blues/disco feel to it, strangely enough. The lyrics are average, but it’s the first time that the singing doesn’t bother me in the least, however, two other things broke me: the broken rhythm is disturbing and the background effects… sorry, the background noises are horrible. It tries to be sort of like the Cutting Crew, but when you aspire to be that level of mediocrity, you kind of can. Is it bad? Actually, not so much. Is it great? Definitely no. Just an unimpressive outro to the album.

So, how does it all hold up? Let me share a little story: there are a lot of people that open their mouths to say “The seventies were the greatest. We had the Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple” without knowing that averageness is always there. These bands were the ones that survived the times, because they were something else. There were a lot of average groups, but even the bad bands stay alive because putrid shit is memorable. This album wasn’t that: it wasn’t complete shit. It had its moments. Would I recommend it? Only to know what you are endorsing when you say “Nineties was the best time ever, because of Nirvana, Green Day and Pearl Jam”. It’s average as bread and a glass of water. Even Pump Up the Jam will be remembered by me in the end of the year, but probably, I will forget I listened to this album. EMF, sorry, but you got yourselves into that sort of limbo.

This is JotaKa, signing off.

Tomorrow, I’ll play out of my comfort zone, again, with Poison by Bell Biv DeVoe. Woopie.

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