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Music Review: Static of the Gods – Knowledge Machine

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The third release from the Static of the Gods has the trio of Jen Johnson, Ben Voskeritchian, and Mike Latulippe venturing down a path that sounds a lot like the way the Sheila Divine was heading. Formerly accustomed to playing straight-and-true rock and roll, Static of the Gods is a group that is developing into an engaging, fully sounded pop band. One may think that the world has got enough pop rockers to fill a deep ravine in Arizona, but Static of the Gods make a strong effort to stand out by giving off an air of not trying so hard.

Jen Johnson sounds a little more mystical in her delivery than previous efforts by the group, which may be due to the direction that the band has steered towards as they have gotten older. The vocal comparison to Johnson that I can hear in most tracks is of a softer Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Granted, you won’t hear Johnson screeching out anything that sounds like “Art Star”, yet neither will you get the sense that Johnson is trying to vigorously grab your attention. Her voice casually and seamlessly sings within the boundaries of the band, giving them a chance to stir up the listener as much as she could. Since Johnson does not try to overpower the Voskeritchian’s steady bass or Latulippe’s drumming style, the record is easier to listen to and a much more enjoyable experience without the musical combat.

Finding alarming faults in any of the songs are difficult to identify, for the band succeeds in not concocting any true fillers. “Talk You Down” is a turn up the volume kind of song, especially when the chorus gets going. As with most Static of the Gods songs, the build up through verses is subtle enough so that the modern formula of ‘build up, be loud, get silent momentarily, crash out’ isn’t evident anywhere. “Talk You Down” wonderfully coalesces into an exciting ending while dually combining as a pop song as well as a charge-induced rock song. It reminds me of something Doves might do.

“White Flag” may have a few too many lyrical clichés, but it sounds excellent. As the song develops a scene of a couple who may be unsure about their future together, the song takes on an urgent quality. “Mean Streak” later picks up that urgency while concurrently going a little heavier on the guitar. However, even though some songs vary from getting a little soft to a little more animated, the band could be pegged as perhaps being a tad safe. No song drastically stands out as unique when compared to anything else on the record, which to each listener could be a good or bad thing. Since I’m a fan of consistency, this is easy to overlook as the record progresses.

At first I was apprehensive as to what Static of the Gods is wishing to do, considering where they had begun. Now I think that if anyone is going to try and be unpretentious about personal pop tunes, it can be Static of the Gods. Give this album a listen a few times and see if you can hear what I mean. Check them out on their website for a few songs from the album.

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