In a world where Floridians carried the burden (and the embarrassment) of their state's muddled election procedures and Californians must start every conversation with, "No, I didn't vote for Arnold," there's a lot of pride resting on your hometown. Who wouldn't, then, want to root for their place of residence? If your back yard is a representation of you, then by all means possible will you try to hype it up a bit. But with so many new sounds, new bands, new next-big-things that aren't, occasional weeding out is necessary. The Flesh, hailing from good ol' Williamsburg, though not deserving the axe, could use some hedging on its debut EP, Death Connection.
The band, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Nathan Halpern, bassist Jason Binnick, keyboardist Gabriella Zappia and drummer Greg Rogove, is chock full of hype-worthy characteristics: good looks, energetic live shows and a dark, slinky sound mixed with a dance beat. "Love" jolts and jitters around the droning of a keyboard while Halpern screeches, "What I want is what I am." This confidence is exuded throughout the four-song EP, along with lust, longing and, of course, love. Draping the entire album is a dark, eerie glow -- think Pugsley of the Addam's Family fronting a band.
Yet sometimes the Flesh's emotional sincerity comes off as overly sappy. "Death Connection" gets weighed down by Halpern's quasi boy-band belting and climaxes with a Rent-worthy moment that includes the line, "It doesn't matter what kind of clothes you wear." The opening track isn't the only one with sub-par lyrics; "Copticon" holds the most uncomfortable moment of the album, with the line "Fuck and suck / in a dream / but a dream," raising the album's eerie factor to strange new levels.
The Flesh's punk-gone-R&B sound gets the heart beating and toes tapping, but don't a lot of bands? Notably the Fever, whose guitarist Sanchez Esquire produced Death Connection. This pairing of band and producer, though, only exacerbates what the Flesh is lacking; I found myself wanting to put in Pink on Pink while listening to the EP. Halpern's howl during the line "The only thing that matters is what we're going to do tonight" is a near-replica of Geremy Jasper's yelps on "Bridge and Tunnel," and the Flesh's "Foes" is a bad reproduction of "Pink Paganz," lacking its sneer and jeer.
An EP isn't always indicative of a band's direction, so I'm holding out for the Flesh; live they show enough intensity to give hope that they will escape from average-band territory. But until they do, I'm sticking with the team that will make my city proud.
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