Tabula Rasa is the debut release from London based grunge acolytes CHASE THE DAY who are in possession of a blueprint drawn up in a dingy club in Seattle sometime during the 1990s. The publicity blurb that accompanies the album mentions attempts to press a few tempting band name buttons (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, NIRVANA, WEEZER) to draw alternative types to the watering hole, but sadly the end product is more pale imitation than vibrant inspiration.
There’s nothing present which hasn’t been done to death several times previously. Where’s the nihilism of NIRVANA? Where’s the playfulness of WEEZER? Where’s the anger that made RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE so utterly compelling? Where’s the sonorous world weariness of SCREAMING TREES? Sadly not here. Opener Pariah has some decent vocal melodies, the guitars have a little meat on their bones and the singer has a decent voice. It sounds a little ALICE IN CHAINS lite. ‘Nice’ ain’t right. Give us danger.
Track two, Chase the Day, slots into gear with a bit more bite, has a brief dalliance with a funk riff hijacked from the first couple of RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS albums, before settling into some more pipe and slippers pleasantness. Ditto A Little Peace. Forget Your Name is a step forwards from its predecessors. The guitars are more forceful, the vocals a little more on edge. CHASE THE DAY sound as though at least one of them was having a very bad day and that my friends is a very good thing. Damage Done is a relationship breakdown song and sprinkles a few pop influences into the mix, but ends up being neither one thing nor the other.
Rats In The Cellar is 48 second trippy oddity which sounds like someone had an idea for a song, but couldn’t be bothered to complete it whereas Seed tries desperately hard to be RADIOHEAD, but ends up more like COLDPLAY. Moving swiftly on……
Just The Same sinks even lower and again sounds like its trying its best to be something it simply isn’t. Essentially an insipid, monotone drone, it has bad 6th form emo poetry crooned over the top. “Tell me why am I here still, Why’s the cure make me so ill, the doctor’s sick from hearing me complain” Yes, no doubt he is. Across The Water is one of the more promising tracks contained therein and is some ways makes what surrounds it on Tabula Rasa all the more frustrating. The obvious reference point is once again RADIOHEAD and there’s a subtle soupcon of the spaced-out vibe of SOUNDGARDEN’S Black Hole Sun burbling away beneath. Its a song which wouldn’t sound completely out of place being belted out by the masses at Reading Festival and shows that CHASE THE DAY have got a sprinkling of magical fairy dust hidden away in a cupboard.
Honeypot also gets a thumbs up by virtue of sounding like a chirpy WILDHEARTS/SOUL ASYLUM hybrid whilst Spider Jerusalem is another from the uptempo, anthemic camp, while closer Dig sees crunchy rock riffs and sweet vocal harmonies shaking hands and agreeing to be friends.
What’s frustrating about Tabula Rasa is that a lot of the requisite elements are in place for something a whole lot better. It feels like a decent EP padded out with dross to stretch it to album length. CHASE THE DAY have a decent album in them, but Tabula Rasa isn’t it.
Tabula Rasa is out now via self-release.
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