I generally like to joke about how the UK indie rock scene is a bland pastiche of douchey dance-punk and lame copycat bands that can’t manage to put their own spin on a sound, or even worse, pervert those sounds (every time I think about Fat White Family and how they’ve achieved greater success than Country Teasers, I die a little). Every once in a while, I find a band like Family Bender who reminds me to not make generalizations. They wear their influences on their sleeve, but with the 4 songs on their debut EP, they manage to carve out their own identity and hint at a very promising future.
If you wanted to boil it down to a genre, this EP would probably be garage/noise pop, but “Slanted & Enchanted-era Pavement meets Is This It-era Strokes” is a little more referentially useful. It’s not quite as breathy or relaxed as Pavement, but Malkmus is an obvious influence of lyrics, vocals, and melody crafting. The Strokes’ comparison shines through on both the boombox quality of the vocals (like early Casablancas) and the tight, jagged punk rock style of play used to execute the melodies. Sprinkle in some occasional light and tasteful synth work, and we’ve got Family Bender.
The 4 song set is solid all-around, but the “Realize, recognize. Troubadours conduct how you feel, so happy pop day, baby.” in “Pop Day” is an especially brilliant line in a particularly good song.
Family Bender manages to take classic influences and blend them into a sound and style that warrants listening to them in lieu of their predecessors when the mood strikes, and that’s a great start.
Purchase the cassette here.