The debut album from Iowa quartet The Envy Corps opens promisingly with ‘Wires & Wool’, which blends the plod at Elbow’s heart with the vocal determination of Thom Yorke circa ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ - it makes for a promising start. When the album traipses on, however, it becomes clear that they’ve peaked way too early and rely on mostly this song to compensate for the abundance of filler. ’99, 100’ and ‘Rooftop’ are the worst offenders of all, aimlessly pottering off into Joe Average’s no man’s land.
‘Sylvia (The Beekeeper)’ is an ode to Sylvia Plath with a touch too much lushness, with singer Luke Pettipoole droning on admirably but continuing to come across all Stars In Their Eyes – that’s not quite why this album fails to impress though, or at least it’s not the only reason. The problem lies herein: it’s trying to be something which was never all that great in the first place, namely U2. And it’s particularly obvious on ‘Keys To A Good Living’, where The Envy Corps have completely failed to cut out an identity for themselves.
‘Rhinemaidens’ is unenviably edge-free; it’s whimsical with nothing to make it stand out. Striving for hooks is never really a good plan, unless you’ve got quirks in your repertoire too. A fantastic song ‘Float On’ by Modest Mouse may be, but making a whole album of second-rate impersonations is like walking off of a short pier.
Listening to this album catalyses the age-old question that’s always been there– is it better to be marmite than jam? To invoke a reaction immediately, or only when forced? Guess it depends on how much (or whether) you think really. If music that doesn’t ache and lingers in the sidelines is all you require, then The Envy Corps will be your thing. If, however, you wish to be only slightly moved, then it’d be more advisable if Doves made their comeback now.