More than any other group who's gotten lazily compared to other New Zealand bands thanks to country of origin, Salad Boys firmly and decisively earn comparisons with The Clean and The Verlaines on the back of the insanely catchy "Dream Date" and a hook that will just not quit. I hesitate to highlight that song too much 'cause you may think I'm neglecting the rest of Metalmania the full-length debut from these guys, out next week on Trouble in Mind Records.
God forbid I did neglect any of this album 'cause Metalmania is consistently charming. If "Daytime Television" doesn't recall The Verlaines it does nod in the direction of American bands like Sebadoh and that's not a bad thing at all. "Better Pickups" languidly does the Neil Young thing, while the sublime "My Decay" rides a glorious melody into Sonic Youth-circa-Sister-territory.
"No Taste Bomber" uses a hook that sounds like "Driver 8" by R.E.M. to give the tune-age of Salad Boys a distinctly "American" vibe, while "Bow to Your Sensation" gently sways between bits of classic Ride and classic Built to Spill. A relatively down-tempo guitar-heavy bit of business, the song charms on the strength of its memorable melody. "Hit Her and Run" echoes early Yo La Tengo in some weird way and, again, the Salad Boys show themselves to have great taste in U.S. indie.
Metalmania, out now on Trouble in Mind Records, is a pleasant surprise. Salad Boys have simultaneously honored their New Zealand peers and influences while crafting tunes that bow down before Nirvana ("I'm A Mountain") and even Chris Bell ("First Eight"). It's clear from the 10 tracks on this record that Salad Boys know their stuff and can use their love of their own influences to craft affecting post-punk. Not everything here is as immediately catchy as "Dream Date" but the other 9 cuts are just as good in their own way.
Follow Salad Boys on their official Facebook page.