Six Finger Satellite was one of the bands essentially killed by being on Sub Pop in the wake of Nirvana. Late-blooming grunge puppies thinking there was magic in the label looked for something that was like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and then flooded used CD shops with the castoffs. There are probably still copies of The Pigeon Is The Most Popular Bird circulating through college towns around the country, eventually left to the ignominy of the bargain bin. What the tobogganed masses and slumming philosophy have missed for all these years is that Six Finger Satellite was essentially a band from the future. There must have been some sort of wormhole functioning in Providence during the mid-’90s, allowing the band to travel back and make Cassandra-like predictions about where post-punk music would travel in the early years of the next century.
After taking most of the decade off, Six Finger Satellite has returned with A Good Year For Hardness. The years have not changed the band measurably; it is still defined by the keyboards and vocals of frontman J. Ryan. He has known forever how to make synthesizers sound muscular and greasy, and he uses this knowledge to good effect throughout the album. A Good Year For Hardness sounds as if Six Finger Satellite didn’t take a hiatus. While this is good up to a point, time really doesn’t wait for anyone. In the interim, the prescient nature of the band’s music has been proven, accepted into the mainstream, and become passé. Though Six Finger Satellite missed the trough of the wave, it is once again a band out of time. The problem is that this time, the band is dredging up the past instead of predicting the future. If there’s such a thing as nostalgia for music that was ahead of its time, then A Good Year For Hardness is a safe bet.