by Tom Roden
The idea of a band teaming up with some of its biggest inspirations is something of a romanticised ideal. To the artist, the opportunity always seems like a dream come true at the time. Listeners don’t necessarily get the same kick from this though, and occasionally are even presented with something truly abysmal like Lulu.
So, when indie-grunge outfit Skating Polly revealed that it would be working with Veruca Salt‘s Louise Post and Nina Gordon on new EP New Trick, it could have gone either way. Fortunately for long-time fans of the outfit, it hasn’t gone badly. What the band offers up in the space of eleven short minutes is a sound that is much more developed, coherent and mature than much of the band’s previous tracks. Yet with that said, it feels like this growth came at the expense of individuality and creativity. New Trick feels like a plateaued release of teenage garage band angst.
Take opening track ‘Louder in Outer Space’, for example. Once the brooding acoustic introductory verse is out of the way, the track transforms into a muscular rush of 90s grunge adrenaline that quickly fades into the background. What could have been a powerful and rousing number collapses into a track that simply channels the ghosts of movements past; namely, the early 90s grunge movement that birthed Veruca Salt in the first instance.
Over the course of the EP’s three tracks, the band doesn’t manage to shake this dated sound. The production values certainly add a more refined and polished sound than you would have heard 25 years ago, but it’s not quite enough to elevate this EP above a revivalist release. If this had been a Veruca Salt EP, this may have been forgiveable and palateable. Yet even on 2011’s Taking Over The World, Skating Polly showed much more of a creative spark and interest in individuality than they appear to have here. ‘Hail Mary’ offers a crunchy touch of something captivating, but it’s not enough to save the EP.
Skating Polly has something going for it. Unfortunately, it seems that the excitement of working with influential figures from the Grunge scene has made this EP feel like more of an homage to days gone by than something promising for the outfit. It’s a fun eleven minute experiment, but we must hope that Skating Polly’s next offering is more distinctive.