20 Minute Loop, S/t (Self-released)

Posted December 31st, 1998 by admin

20 Minute Loop
By: Eric G.

The name and the Radiohead-esque packaging suggest an altogether different beast, but this quintet sounds more like Poi Dog Pondering than any droning UK space-rock. The band’s self-proclaimed “freak pop” is a strange amalgam of tight rhythms and ultra-quirky songwriting. The two main vocalists, Greg Giles and Kelly Atkins, sing together most of the time, but their voices aren’t as strange as their melodies. The songs sound like bizarre interpretations of the Pixies’ breakthrough hit, “Here Comes Your Man”, but without Black Francis’ controlled fury. The music is upbeat but so self-consciously “weird” that it occasionally sounds forced and unnatural (“She Hated Dogs”). “Face Like A Horse” is a standout track, though, with a charging beat and good harmonies not to mention a catchy hook.

The band cites XTC as an influence, which is more evident in the sound than the songwriting. The songs take twisted bits of homespun imagery and infuse them with hyperactive vocal melodies that have folksy roots. Atkins’ voice is preferable to Giles’, but sometimes they blend well together despite the overly affected inflections. There is an underlying country influence that sometimes causes the band to slip into new age sounding, adult-contemporary schlock (“Disconnect”). Thankfully, these moments are few and far between. The production is tight and crisp and the band uses its keyboards sparingly and well. This is a bold debut that shows elements of promise. If the band could only veer away from some of the showy, self-indulgent elements of its songwriting, things would be much improved.

Tags: review