Review: Flying Machines
Label: Meteor 17
Released: September 22, 2009
Flying Machines recently won Converse's "Get Out of the Garage" nationwide battle of the bands contest. Their music has been featured on TV's Psych. They're a band on the way up. So, what's the hype? Well, their guitar driven pop rock (a la the Killers) fits in nicely with the current mood of the mass consumer music market. The well-crafted songs have solid hooks, yet don't get overwhelmed by their own catchiness. Sound good? Well, don't jump in too soon.
They churn out some solid arena rock on "Talk About It" and driving guitar pop on "I Can't Stop." Hints of ELO-slick Beatlemania haunt "On a Whim," while "I Don't Remember Why" is piano-less Elton John in its best moments (and Phil Collins-ish in its worst). When Flying Machines works Queen into the mix, it seems like things are taking a turn for the better...until it becomes clear that their Queen lacks the flamboyance and intense creativity of the original. "Gina Don't Call Me" does take off in places, boding well for there being a better band lurking under these thinly veiled stabs at commercial success, but their heads quickly wrest control of the album back from their hearts. The Queen-meets-power-pop finish on "Hopelessly Alone" and "Clearing the Boards" is almost catchy enough for willful suspension of disbelief to finally kick in, but it's too little, too late. Every song is technically very good, but poking holes in their paper-thin veneer isn't all that difficult.
Flying Machines' first offering dots all of its i's and crosses all of its t's. Every box on the checklist is checked off. What they don't realize though is that the things that make a great rock record aren't on any checklist and it's those things that are missing. Identity, intensity, soul. There's no formula for that and, thus far, Flying Machines hasn't found it on their own. They're okay as a short term fix, but, like their older peers, they won't take long to wear thin.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.