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S PRCSS - Tastes Like Daughter

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Artist: S PRCSS

Album: Tastes Like Daughter

Label: My Pal God

Review date: Aug. 3, 2004

Stylistically, S PRCSS are something of an anomaly in the current indie-rock scene. Their connection to Les Savy Fav (through touring as well as through the French Kiss record label) has often led to them being discussed in terms of the trendy post-punk/new wave revival, but that label rarely applies to their music, which actually resembles that of the artsy groups on the fringes of the (gasp) ’90s alternative/grunge movement – bands like Shudder To Think, Chavez, maybe even Jawbox. If S PRCSS released Taste Like Daughter 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had ended up with a major label deal because of it.

As they proved with last year’s MNML, S PRCSS don’t have to sacrifice mood when it comes to their pop songs. Their ability to match them with complex vocals makes them all the more memorable. Taste Like Daughter doesn’t veer from what works, but it does present the different threads in a more sparse form.

“Your Motivation Is: Less Like This” opens with two guitar parts that, while rather simple by themselves, become wonderfully propulsive when paired against each other. By the time the vocals finally kick in, the song is seething with intensity despite a slow tempo and no drums. It’s only when a ridiculously out-of-place British accent pops up that the track is sapped of its rousing energy, an icky pretension so painful it’s hard to fathom the intent.

And that seems to be the only real problem with S PRCSS…they take too much enjoyment from their own wit. For example, take the lyrics of “I Call I Gorilla (Mountain Lifter),” which in melodic terms is probably the most compelling cut here: “Hook this tree up against a/I fence offensive (Oh fence I’ve) let this be romantic I. Hanuman. I not I.” (as written in the liner notes). Even the punctuation is annoying. At certain points, this sort of academic pomposity creates distraction, but most of Tastes Like Daughter perseveres anyway.

For all the bare-bones aesthetics and pretentious ticks that color Taste Like Daughter, S PRCSS are essentially a poppy indie-rock band, and a rather good one at that. On the finale “Give The Beaches To The People,” they manage to strike a fine balance between the obtuse and the accessible, snaking syncopated rhythms and noisy breakdowns around purely pop hooks. A mammoth bass riff, turning up late in the song, could even get some fists pumping.

When they put all of their various components together, S PRCSS can be enormously entertaining. However, a good portion of Taste Like Daughter seems to be an experiment in taking their music apart, piece by piece. This may not be the best approach for putting the band’s talents on display, but it’s doubtful that they care. S PRCSS clearly have their own ideas about what makes a good rock record, and that’s pretty refreshing in itself.

By Joel Penney

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