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Burning Airlines | Identikit (de Soto)
The members of Burning Airlines have a respectable Punk and Rock pedigree, having served time in Government Issue, Wool and Jawbox between them. But in this formation, it's difficult to get too excited. There's a lot of effort, and highly competent playing, but it's ground covered many times, and much better. There are glimpses of the commercial Punk that is the corporate-fed and watered youth rebel racket of today, but in the main, Identikit is a parade of steals from the great and the not so great, but influential. Pixies (of course), Fugazi (naturally), Primus and firehose are the obvious comparisons. So despite the odd the-kids'll-love-this hook, it's too complex by far to create the pogo pandemonium they crave. There are lots of stoppy-starty thrashings and the odd reflective moment, but the bass is as prominent and lithe as anything featuring Mike Watt or Les Claypool. Mike Harbin is the man here, and he forms a chunky rhythm section with drummer Pete Moffett. They do their utmost to push things along, but it all sags, only really at least hitting the board with the Post-Rock stylings of The Surgeon's House and the galloping Paper Crowns. Singer and guitarist J. Robbins contributions are spiky string-play, and a voice much like a less operatic Mike Patton. It's a stab at Emo, and so consequently, there are some thoughtful lyrical images. I particularly like "All I know about love / is balanced a hundred feet above / this spellbound crowd of push and shove"; eloquently voiced paranoia. Just brief moments of satisfaction, then. This is Burning Airlines' second album; I've not heard their first. Assuming that Identikit is a progression, I would not go out of my way to seek it out. There's a lack of identity here, and it is also evident that these guys are veterans. It's generally pretty tired. But it's got a cool sleeve.

Tom Sheriff
June-July 2001

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