In the music world, bands come and go. Longevity is a concept that does not exist. For one of Portland’s finest, System And Station, a thousand years could pass and this band would still be jamming. System And Station have been playing for fifteen years now and are now releasing their tenth and latest album. Having not ever been a big follower of the band, nor being very familiar with their music, I was interested to find out what all the hullabaloo was about.
When an album starts out with a track like, “Turned Guns,” I tend to get a little skeptical. That drum beat, those guitars, that voice –it’s high school all over again. The band tries to be like their heroes and falls a bit short, ends up just coming off really gimmicky. From track one I was terrified of what was to come. Boring melodies with try-hard distortion effects aren’t that fun to listen to, and with a voice reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne (and so totally not in a good way) things were going south quickly. But let’s not jump to conclusions. As the album progressed I began to feel a little more comfortable with the band. By track four, “Saturday Night Friends,” I had some rekindled hope. The melodies had grown a little more mature and each song began to take a little more shape. I felt like I was actually listening to music with substance. But still, it wasn’t quite enough.
Some music is timeless and some music has to evolve with the changing scenery. It’s the difference between just another song and a masterpiece. System And Station’s latest album, unfortunately, really doesn’t meet today’s standards. It’s sad to say, but a certain sound can be exhausted. The album constantly leaves a bitter after taste of, “Haven’t I heard this before?” While it may build up time from time, it always fails to hit the mark. The seventh track, “Sells Us The Senseless” is a perfect example. What starts out drastically different from the rest of the album and carries on to be a bit calmer and carefully composed, turns itself into an aggressive rock jam way too quickly. The guitars actually sound like they can be built on instead of just being senseless strumming and the vocals take on a more ambient approach. But then, we’re back at square one and it’s all gone to hell. Why? Is that rock and roll aggression really necessary?
The main gripe at hand is how poorly System And Station have aged. Their latest album doesn’t do much to stand out against their fellow musicians from the past few decades. While not terrible, the album, System And Station, certainly isn’t a masterpiece –the band’s latest album definitely isn’t for everyone.