No. 9 - Sponge – Wax Ecstatic - 4/5
Like the originators of the genre, they too adhere to both the more aggressive and the pop/rock orientated style. Both distinct, and well done, but unquestionably weaker where the more simplistic approach is taken, lacking something that really draws your attention.
The main strength this band possesses is their ability to write memorable riffs, and combine it with addictive chorus lines. The bass is thick, and the drumming loud and slow, to create the atmosphere. The guitars come largely into play for emphasis on specific moments, leading to a slow build up to the climax of each track. The vocals in that typical grunge drawl, adding to the tone whilst remaining clear enough to comprehend, the end tone produced on these more aggressive tracks is very much a more upbeat Alice in Chains.
It’s when the slower tracks kick in, the focus on the riffs dwindles and were left with a far more barren sound, relying on a sometimes thin atmosphere to sustain it. Utilising very basic guitar riffs, often combined with some other instrument, a piano, saxophone or wind instrument for example, these tracks aren’t terrible, simply lacking in that bite, that addictive quality that made the rest of the album so good. Certainly in ‘Death of a Drag Queen’ do they succeed in creating an atmospheric slow track, using subtle tones in the background to give an eerie style, and once again using the guitars to maximum effect in the chorus. In a similar manner, utilising acoustic guitars an emotional tone is prevalent in ‘velveteen,’ and in both cases the emotion feels forthright, and direct.
This album was build largely around a highly unusual concept, the death of a drag queen, and whilst some initial tracks seem to make light of the situation it quickly turns into a tragic tale, of the loneliness of the lifestyle, the emotions felt as they work in bars in Memphis (where the story is set), and particularly at the end, where we approach the end of the protagonist’s tale. This makes for an unusual album, filled with definite highlights and sub-par tracks, and is the major drawback to this album.
Highlights: Wax Ecstatic, Death of a Drag Queen, My Baby Said
By T. Bawden