Sound: "Headstunts" is the anagram inspired fourth record from New Zealand rockers, The Datsuns. Despite the Kiwi quartets fall from mainstream attention they have continued to put out great garage-rock records in the subsequent aftermath of the post-millennium scene that launched them in the first place. Would "Headstunts" continue the run?
The Datsuns have always been at they're collective best when they have been at they're most riffy and energetic, and the top moments on this record come very much in that format, with particular emphasis on the energetic. Album opener "Human Error" fires the LP out the traps, a cluster of powerchords and serious pace proceed a reverb drenched chorus, driven by a soaring backing vocal and effect induced guitar solo. The ultra-riffy "So Long" follows suit, as does "Yeah Yeah Just Another Mistake", essentially Iron Maiden's "The Wicker Man" on speed, melodically infectious and complete with a couple of superb wah-wah pedal driven guitar solos. Breaking away from the formula, other songs worthy of praise are the epic middle of the record number "Eye Of A Needle", a brooding bass-led build-up eventually explodes into a guitar induced finale. "Cruel Cruel Fate" rattles along at a more chugging pace and boasts a high-pitched chorus section, definitely one of the strongest on the record, even if it is dangerously close to bordering on cheesey.
Frustratingly, the majority of the remaining songs either come across as a bit lacklusture by comparison or just attempt to be a bit too quirky for they're own good. "Hey, Paranoid People!" with it's awkward title and chorus refrain, led by a basic keyboard sequencing loop lacks bite, "Your Bones" fares better but again is dragged back by a slightly offsetting stop-start structure, it's leading riff wouldn't be out of place on a pirate themed soundtrack, jangly and offering a lack of conviction. Elsewhere, songs like "Ready Set Go", "Highschool Hudlums" and the Misfits-inspired "Cry Crybaby" are just too one-dimensional, lacking the high impact riffs, wild melodies and creative guitar solo's The Datsuns are renound for. // 6
Lyrics: I'm almost inclined to say copy and paste the lyrics section from a previous Datsuns review of mine as for much of this record also, the emphasis is very much on the melody job, not the lyric job, with his singer Dolf's signature frenetic delivery making the lyrical intentions hard to clarify. The general sentiment throughtout the record is reflection on naivity and mistakes, hammered home particurlarly on "Human Error", "Yeah Yeah Just Another Mistake" and slow burning album closer "Somebody Else". // 5
Overall Impression: Without a doubt "Headstunts" is The Datsuns weakest record to date, with half the record truly on song, the other just not matching the levels the band have held down across they're career so far. Completists aside, if your looking for a slice of garage rock from one of the strongest bands in the genre, yes, opt for The Datsuns, but probably don't opt for this record. Hopefully they will reignite the torch with album number five. // 6