If cramming multiple musical styles and genres into often undecipherable and altogether perplexing songs about weed and TV sounds like your cup of tea, then Jennifer Herrema’s (Royal Trux, RTX) latest project is probably right up your alley. But if you’re like me and of the mindset that adding laser sounds to a basic rock and roll song doesn’t make it better, but actually far, far worse, then you should probably be skeptical of Rad Times Xpress IV.
Black Bananas—basically just a renamed RTX—tout themselves as a band making a new sound out of tossed aside or forgotten elements, and at times it works for them – kind of. The fuzz guitar and Herrema’s doubled and echoed vocals on the churning and trippy opener, “It’s Cool”, make for a satisfying combination, and the nicked MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e riff on “Killer Weed” is playful, if nothing else. But when the Bananas get clubby on dance tracks “Hot Stupid” and “Do It”, the results are underwhelming. It’s hard to tell whether Auto-Tune is being used ironically or genuinely, but either way, it’s a bad choice.
On the rare occasion that they strip the bells and whistles, as they do on the riffy and rocking “My House”, there is evidence of a pretty fun rock band and a captivating hard rock frontwoman, but those moments are few and far between. They opt more for the other direction, piling on the overdubs and masking the vocals.
Black Bananas will no doubt be the soundtrack to many a warehouse party, but where they strive to pioneer a new sound stemming from everything from 80s hair metal to industrial to funk, they ultimately come off sounding confused and even a touch pretentious.
Essential Tracks: “Killer Weed” and “My House”