Sound: Edmonton's Stereos represent why televised music competitions shouldn't exist. They reek of mainstream ideas and beliefs, provoking artists not needed in the industry to follow their heart and in the true Disney way, make dreams come true. Canada's premier radio single network MuchMusic founded the series disBAND which unveiled the electronic pop quintet, who after an obsessive amount of publicity managed to spit out Uncontrollable, a sophomore disc that smells like the group's influences. Though the band are Canadian, could be classified as indie and fondle some pop punk themes, Stereo's love for electronic pop and club-thumping hip hop love jams ignites their downfall into the category "Meant For Teeny-Boppers".
While some pop rock (see The Maine, 3OH!3) is bearable, Uncontrollable's sound aims for the wrong target audience. Going even younger isn't playing it safe and sure the expectations of a sophomore release aren't strict, sounding Disney-radio ready isn't an accomplishment. A twin to the group's debut, the material sways in and out of sugar pop laced with way-too-simple synth, shoe-shining hooks with boy-ish glitter charm. "Girls In The Club (We Got It)" acts mature, but breathes a grade nine dance before "Feel It" and "Like A Heartbeat" enter with Metro Station-pumped choruses overshadowing the two guitarists and bassist. The record label tagged to Stereos implies punk, but the outburst is almost feminine with pop collaborations and a relentless boom of overplayed and overused scene cuts. // 2
Lyrics: "Take a shot at the bar, we gon' start a conversation about how pretty you are,". Really? Though the group feels in their comfort zone without any lack of confidence, they're creativity has taken a hit. Their self-titled debut didn't contain pure club mentality extracts like "Take U Home" and was carefully constructed to a point where it didn't turn out to be awkward ramblings infected with sugar. "Shorty got style, shorty got class / When she walk by, I be checking that ah-ah-ah-ah-attitude," croons Pat Kordyback on "Attitude", a pop track telling the story about scoping out the opposite sex and any seductive figure they may have. Stereos attitude on Uncontrollable makes their debut look mature because their lyrics falter most of the time. Pop excels with creativity and an addictive quality, not catchy nonsense hoping to tease. Going down that route has made Kordyback vulnerable, turning him into just another electro-pop voice more concerned about how a girl coveys him, not projecting with honesty. // 2
Overall Impression: The Canadian band describe the record as finding their comfort zone, stating everything written on the release "feels right". The problem is, it doesn't sound right. Stereos consistently lectures how they're a group wrapping elements of hip hop and pop around a punk core, but the mentality is nowhere to be seen as the dance club charade is apparent to the point it shamefully busts a move in your face. Due to that, it's difficult to acknowledge Uncontrollable is an Underground Operations (Protest The Hero, Carpenter) release nurtured by Universal Music. The independent nature isn't there. The punk mentality has evaporated. Even the "fresh" tag has been obliterated by the abundance of synthesizer on the album. It can be difficult to throw too many criticisms one way, but Stereos seem as if they took a step back instead of taking a step forward, making their purpose extremely vague. Since there were a few drops of potential on their opening release, it's interesting to see what the group do as their career has become a chessmatch that may be almost finished based on the next move. // 3
- Joshua Khan (c) 2010