Friday, July 20, 2018

Writer's "Cover Your Tracks" Falls Flat

by Jessica DeWinter (writer), Echo Park, Los Angeles, April 18, 2007


Everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover. An unappetizing looking dish can be unexpectedly delicious; a poorly marketed movie can be surprisingly entertaining. And sometimes things are exactly what they appear to be, which, in the case of San Diego’s blandly monikered band Writer, is unfortunate. Taking a lo-fi and somewhat formulaic approach to their songwriting, brothers James and Andy Ralph, joined by Matthew Fredrich, churn out a perfectly innocuous paint-by-numbers coffeehouse rock album. Repetitive guitar lines, unimaginative harmonies, and plaintive, tuneless vocals punctuate this sophomoric (though well-produced) effort. Whether a listener would consider this style classic or uninspired depends largely on their tolerance for the generic mid-90s alt-rock sound this is aping.

Writer likens themselves to the usual suspects: Elliott Smith, Grandaddy—yet fails to present a modicum of the innovation such acts did in their day. Unfortunately for them, drawing such comparisons only serves to emphasize all of the people who have more successfully accomplished a sound that, in Writer’s hands, comes off as derivative. Their focus appears to be more on the image they are attempting to create—that of tear-stained, whiskey-soaked nights spent sleepless. But without the technical strength to back it up, some attempts only seem like wishful thinking, and lyrics like “I’ll sing forever about pain, and I won’t speak bad about your name” come off as simply histrionic. Still, they wouldn’t be the first band to release an album before achieving cohesiveness, and such an earnest effort may make a sophomore album worth checking out—hopefully once they’ve found a more distinguishable sound.

About the Writer

Jessica DeWinter is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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