“So this is the New Year/ And I don’t feel any different…”
Ben Gibbard once so eloquently sang, and I can’t help but think, when I apply it to Division Day’s debut that, while this may be a new year, some things just don’t sound all that different. While every would-be critic hails the L.A. band as this year’s Tapes n’ Tapes, you might be wise to ignore the hype. Who’s running all these forums anyway? (Oh, right). Seems like all a band needs to become the next critical darling is a blend of derivative and remarkably safe sounding pop music and either a: a quirky name or b: a requisite amount of buzz on certain online publications. Then, poof! Faster than you can say Clap Your Hands Say Yeah you’ve got the next big thing on your, well, `hands.’
So what separates your would-be rock gods from the genuine article? It’s a line that’s grown hazier with each release in recent years, and is becoming even more indistinct with the proliferation of the independent music movement, which is sadly becoming less like an earmark of credibility and more like a fad. It is important to note that much of this music is not all that offensive, especially when you compare it to the mainstream radio dribble that passes for popular music. My only concern is that it comes short of answering the very pertinent quandary, “So what?” If you’re not going to offer anything new, why should anyone offer their willing ear?
I’ve been subjected to far worse albums than Beartrap Island, but likewise have I enjoyed far more interesting ones. For the enjoyment it may bring, you might as well listen to The Loon. And if you’re going to do that, you’re better off listening to…well, you get the idea. Caught in the midst of Death Cab’s sentimentality and Earlimart’s restrained angst, Division Day run the risk of wearing their influences too proudly. With a little refinement,
Beartrap Island could be Transatlanticism: The Outtakes.
“Lights Out” finds lead singer Rohner Segnitz yelping like Jeremy Enigk at his Sunny Day best while he churns out a predictable keyboard riff over rampant electric strums. The most interesting feature of “Dayenu” is that it should remind listeners of Spoon circa A Series Of Sneaks. Beartrap Island is like a compilation disc of some of the most influential independent artists of the last ten years, rather than the distinct style of an emerging band. Like many artists surfacing on the great pool of `indie’ music lately, Division Day seem to be banking on the fact that with just the right amount of online attention, actual musical ingenuity is negligible. Now if only they can land that elusive slot on the O.C. before the series ends.