Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Kevin Shields is smiling somewhere from his mysterious shoegazer throne, contemplating the musical movement he served an integral part in establishing. One thing is sure; the vacuum My Bloody Valentine created following Loveless has been filled to the point of bursting with every sort of imitator with a hard-on for distortion pedals. Saturna are the latest disciples of the fuzz and the case in point that a little reverb and some hazy vocals go a long way in recalling a musical trend that’s been showing a lot of renewed vigor lately.
The oddly titled Some Delicious Enemy, the band’s first full-length, treads over pretty familiar territory. An amalgamation of any number of early ’90s shoegazers (My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Catherine Wheel, etc.) and some other disparate rock influences from that very same decade, (specifically The Dandy Warhols), Saturna seem at ease with the amp cranked and eyes trained on the floor. Drummer Matt Badger is no stranger to the cymbal (“Leader of the Western Stars”) while lead singer Steve Anderson is not afraid to muffle his vocals amid cascading walls of guitar (“Chasing The Unpredictable”).
It all sounds alright if you haven’t heard it before, but where a band like L.A.’s Silversun Pickups applies an original cottony veneer on the genre (and a whole lotta volume), Saturna are content not to stray too far from the formula. “Blanket Of Stars” borrows the distortion pedal from Mr. Shields to wrap the listener in fuzzed-out warmth. Even the vocals are spot on. For a lesson in sonic construction reminiscent of Engineers, look no further than the synchronous guitar spiral of “Much More.”
“Roll Down” is the best track here, a resonating epic opener of buoyant reverb that promises more than the rest of the album can make good on. And while “Pop Rocks” is a pure white line of Dandy Warhols bravado, I think I’d rather leave it to Courtney Taylor-Taylor when I need a shot of over-indulgent rock. Meanwhile songs like “Fall” fall-flat and “Just For Thrills” are anything but.
In spite of a few really great tracks, Some Delicious Enemy too often feels like a cover-band wallowing under the weight of their various influences. From the dissonant guitar wail of their shoegazer brethren to the braggadocio of other more straightforward rockers, Saturna have yet to pluck their own distinct notes from the musical ether. Oh, Kevin Shields, how we miss you.