Sound — 7
It isn't hard to be put off by the initial descriptions of California's Under The Influence Of Giants. The notion that '70s disco music can be combined with indie pop rock is an dubious one, but if you're a fan of the current retro pop rock craze you'd be a fool to not at least give UTIOG a chance. After ditching their previous grungy sound and changing the name of the band, (remember Home Town Hero?) the LA four piece have gone on to make an album that is difficult to categorise. With vocals often reminiscent of the Bee Gees or the Scissor Sisters and funky electronic bass lines the album can be a little daunting at first if you don't know what to expect. However despite this the eleven tracks span a range of genres and draw influences from a number of different bands both retro and contemporary, leaving it unfair to focus purely on their seventies influences.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically the band are unashamedly simply decent. No songs stand out as particular lyrical masterpieces but then this isn't meant to be poetry, it's good old fashioned mainstream music. Whilst no songs stand out as being particularly original lyrically, none stand out as being poor either. Unless you're in the market for particularly deep song meanings, there are no problems here.
Overall Impression — 8
Single In the Clouds, one of the strongest on the album, starts off sounding if anything like a Killers track, before the unique Euro-pop vocals come in. Again, if this sounds nothing like your usual tastes check out their Myspace and give it a listen. What should by all accounts fail as an experiment that should never have happened is actually an incredibly catchy, upbeat track which will probably be a DJ favourite in rock clubs this year. If you like to be able to dance to your indie rock, this is definitely a single you don't want to miss. Other album highlights include the more accessible Got Nothing and the obligatory acoustic track Lay Me Down, both of which could easily pass as a solid radio rock track of any number of other similar bands. If you've heard the singles and are still a little confused about what UTIOG are all about, you owe it to yourself to check this album out and find out for yourself. As a whole, these guys are just another retro influenced indie band aside from one thing, their ability to combine genres you never thought possible to create something more than original enough to stand out from the rest.