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We Are The World
Clay Stones Michael Dix , June 1st, 2010 08:34

As sure as night follows day, it's a dead cert that any band with a remotely original sound and the slightest whiff of critical acclaim will spawn a whole bunch of – generally pale – imitators. When the base matter is weak, the ensuing materiel will doubtless be depressingly inferior. Yet when the original ore is as rich and rare as Swedish duo The Knife, what follows is set to be interesting indeed.

L.A. collective We Are The World are one such group. This, their debut album, suggests that they've been genuinely inspired by the Scandinavian siblings, rather than just hanging onto their coattails. Not so much a band as "performance artists", WATW revolve around the core musical duo of composer Robbie Williamson and vocalist Megan Gold, plus dancers Ryan Heffington and Nina McNeely. They've attracted praise from the likes of the Gossip, High Places and - bizzarely- the late Dennis Hopper for their carefully choreographed and flamboyant live shows. It would seem that their gigs are the place to be, for on record Williamson's industrial electro assaults and Gold's theatrical vocals don't quite meet the standards set by Ms Andersson and Mr Dreijer.

Sure, the production here will sound very familiar to anyone who has spent any time with a copy of Silent Shout; eerie droning synths, clanking machine beats and stomach-turning sub-bass are very much the order of the day. Similarly, Megan Gold's vocal style is, in the main, basically an Americanised take on Karin Dreijer Andersson, an operatic yet alien sound often treated or multi-tracked to create off-key harmonies. However, while the Knife – and Fever Ray – have a handful of undisputed pop gems to their name, Gold consistently fails to come up with anything memorable, or even melodic, preferring instead to bark her chant-along refrains or sing in a flat robotic tone.

There are certainly some interesting moments on offer, mostly within the production; the opening triptych of the title track, 'Foot Follows Foot' and "Fight Song" are all ready-made floor-fillers, thunderous rhythms bolstered by metallic percussion, bells and whistles, while 'Clover And Dirt' sounds like the clicks 'n' cuts from a dozen minimal techno tracks playing concurrently. In fact, strip the majority of Clay Stones' songs of Megan Gold's vocals and you have the curious seeds from which several solid club bangers could spring; all that's missing is a few chord progressions and some big riffs. Ultimately, We Are The World offer proof – if needed- that a good idea is more difficult to pull off when it's not your own.

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