I’m all for bands that like to mix genres and have fun. As a matter of fact, I really look forward to hearing these artists, as I’m interested in knowing what rules they like to bend and which ones they decide need to broken entirely. Such is the case with Black Taxi, an indie rock band who must’ve left their hearts in the 80’s. Filled with reggae and funk mixed with infectious danceable moments, We Don’t Know Any Better aims to have you tapping your foot, nodding your head, bouncing your leg…hell, they’d be thrilled to have you get up and dance! But do they pull it off as much as they hope?
The album kicks off with Tightrope, a very radio-friendly track with a thick, slightly fuzzy bass riff and clean, high-string guitar chords, very akin to something you would hear from Coldplay or Train. While the song is a perfectly fine track, it doesn’t kick off the album with the amount of energy that feels necessary for this kind of album. However, the next track, We Don’t Know Any Better, picks up that slack with a very indie rock/punk sound that had my foot tapping and my head bobbing along.
The album is full of interesting tones. The bass can be well rounded yet at the forefront or suddenly be hairy with fuzz and rocking out at the foundation. The guitars make use of several different tones and effects, including tremolo, chorus, and reverb. The use of delay is especially fun, utilizing surf rock slapback or a spacious ping-pong. The drums are sharp and have great attack while the vocals switch between clean and distorted. Overall, a very fun mix that will have car stereos thumping or your home sound system begging to be turned up just that little bit more.
My issues with the album are that it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be upbeat or more laid back. There are times when I hear influences of The Rapture or Electric Six (We Don’t Know Any Better and We’ll Take Another). But then there are times when I hear bands like The Cure and mellow Depeche Mode take over (Hand and Becoming). Then there is the track Holding On To Nothing, which definitely doesn’t fit. Using acoustic guitars, the track has an entirely different feel than all other tracks, ultimately ending up as an outcast. The final track of the album, Hope I Never Know, seems to sit directly between upbeat and mellow, which left me frustrated, not knowing which way the album wants to sway.
Still, just because the songs might not know where to fall on the spectrum of energy, that doesn’t change the fact that they are very solid tunes. Still, I imagine this band is better enjoyed in a live situation rather than hearing them alone.
The Final Word: Black Taxi’s We Don’t Know Any Better is full of great, thoroughly enjoyable songs. Unfortunately, while the album aims for an excitement level of ten, it only manages to reach an eight.
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