The Stepford Five
A New Design for Living
Reverbose Records

There is something I really like and something I really hate about this record.

Unfortunately, I can't really put either into words. It's kind of odd, like I really want to like it but make fun of it at the same time. The music itself is relatively creative and technically impressive; the vocals border on ordinary, but at moments create awe-inspiring harmonies that are oddly uplifting, and the backing vocals are quite pleasing. Impressive drum work (though poorly e.q.ed and far too bass heavy) backs some really interesting and at times elaborate guitar melodies, creating a pretty decent alternative/rock sound; these are smartly constructed songs that are reminiscent of a cross between Alice in Chains and the Epitaph bands of the 90's. Lyrically, The Stepford Five often border on cheesiness (which isn't helped by the 90's grungified vocals) but then can shift as fluidly as the music, which (on track 5, entitled Ted Hughes) climbs from standard guitar rock riffs to an almost samba beat, met by cello and minimal guitar/bass.

Though it does at times border on that grunge sound and is slightly polished, it is still a pretty good record and well worth checking out.

-Dave Mandell