This quintet from New Zealand has already drummed up considerable support in print and television media, as well as gaining airplay from the likes of Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe. This, their debut album, is supported by an eleven date UK tour throughout October.
The slow drumbeat that announces opener ‘Mercedes Children’ is soon accompanied by howling guitars, but it all gives way to a bluesy, rhythm-propelled number that is neither impressive nor off-putting. Vocalist Ed Knowles has what can be described as a ‘classic’ rock voice, which is put to better use on ‘Take Me There’. Energetic rock’n’roll, it was a recent single which would have had much exposure during the garage rock trend that heralded the arrival of The White Stripes and The Strokes. Throw in a decent guitar solo and you’ve got a decent song that soon has your feet stomping along. ‘What You Heard’ is impressively funky, while the acoustic taste of ‘Where Has She Gone’ is The Kooks without the sing-a-long chorus.
While The Checks are far from a bad band, they fail to keep your attention through a lack of variation. By the second half of the record, songs such as ‘Honest Man’ and ‘Memory Walking’ pass without making an impression. By this point the laidback mood of ‘See Me Peter’ isn’t really what’s needed, though truth be told it’s a decent enough track. It also gets incredibly predictable when nearly every offering has a guitar solo slotted in, like the band feel obligated to take every opportunity available to try and emulate a piece of Hendrix-esque axe work. Completely unnecessary, the consistency becomes a near-annoyance. Like The Vines and Jet before them, it seems as though The Checks are nothing more than a mediocre band being over-hyped and will turn out to be another flavour of the week for the music press.
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