There is no greater death nell for a band than being labeled “The Next Big Thing” or “Saviors of Rock Music,” and nothing that can send a shudder through the spines of avid music listeners faster. There is no publication guiltier of freely tossing about this title than English magazine NME. Their latest victim is Brooklyn-by-way-of-Australia “spaz-rockers” The Death Set. The band uses standard band equipment combined with electronic noise and samples to make fast paced and short songs that are said to make for an incredible live show. As their new album, Michel Poiccard, makes its way through 17 songs, one of the few redeeming qualities is the “short” part of the previous descriptor.
The Death Set work with a solid punk rock energy on most songs, such as “Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap”, “I Like the Wrong Way”, and “A Problem is a Problem It Don’t Matter Where You From” (the latter of which does its best to sound a lot like Rhode Island noise-rockers The Chinese Stars), but overall the album is scattered and uneven. There are quick turns from fast one-two-one-two grungy tunes like those previously mentioned, to epic My Chemical Romance-esque tunes like “It’s Another Day”, to slow electronica freak outs like “7pm Woke Up an Hour Ago” that leave you just sort of shaking your head and wondering what is happening. At best, The Death Set are a decent garage band.
There are a few highlights—and with 17 songs there is bound to be a few—such as Le Tigre-esque “Chew It Like a Gun Gum, and ’70s punk child “Michel Poiccard Prefers the Old (She Yearns for the Devil)”. These tunes show a side/direction that you wish The Death Set would focus on rather than trying out every influence they have ever had on one album.
Will the dreaded title of “#1 Biggest Hope of the Future” that NME gave The Death Set curse them to a footnote in NME’s future issues? It is quite possible, but their latest album might be more of a hex than the NME title. There is a lot of flash-in-the-pan potential in the band, but I’m sure there will be some Williamsburg/Soho hipsters that will hang on long enough to give The Death Set a second or third 15 minutes.