Emulating Weezer is neither an original nor a heinous crime, and the Germans’ Cape Fear is the latest proof of that. Sparked with promising flashes of grunge guitars, this Toronto quintet establishes a sound only modestly independent of those indie-rock forefathers, who loom over this album like a sixth member.
Opener “Tiger Vacuum Bottle” and “Franchise” balance catchy percussion and sophisticated guitars (even if they sound like a poor man’s J. Mascis’s) . The real weakness lies in frontman Leon Taheny (he of Final Fantasy fame), who strays too far into a bland Rivers Cuomo impression. Two songs in particular benefit from minimal Taheny: the rambunctious instrumental “Pogos Abenteur” offers colliding synths and guitar riffs, and the finale, “Brown’s,” introduces vocals after a thrashing yet ambient opening.
When Germans coerce contrasting sounds, the fusion can be satisfying. “I Am the Teacher” glides along an experimental guitar/synth beat while Tahney exchanges verses with wailing supporting vocals. The following track, “So It’s Out,” coasts from an angst-ridden jam about how “we caught all the bastards/ and made them our friends” into a melodic stroll that’s laden with harmonious supporting vocals. At times, Germans rival the National’s Alligator with compositions focused on deeply reflective vocals, but Taheny’s vocals cannot match his band’s superior grooves on Cape Fear.