If pressed for my first impression of The National Rifle's
Vanity Press EP you would be reading a short and disappointing
review. Probably something short and sweet like, "Hated it."
Thank God for subsequent listens. Otherwise, I would have completely
overlooked a truly great EP.
My mistake upon first listen was getting stuck on the opening track,
"In The Weeds". It threw me on my first listen. Everything
seemed slightly out of place. Super-fast jazz influenced drumming,
jangly guitar riffs, flamenco piano and earnest lead vocals, all supported
by a chorus of Shangri-Las' style "Oohh-Aahh" backing
vocals. Instead of working together as a cohesive track, the disparate
styles seemed to crash into each other making the track fall apart.
Fortunately, with listens number 2 and 3 and 4 (and on and on) I got
it. Vanity Press has been in my CD player ever since.
Track 2, "She's A Waste", is where things came together
for me in a concoction of I'm-The-Man-era Joe Jackson indie-pop
that pulled all those odd styles into a signature sound. The jazz-style
drumming driving the track and weaving in and out of the guitar riffs,
while the backing vocals compliment the lead vocals. The lead suddenly
"Jazz History Of The World" continues the fun while stealing
the guitar line from Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants
To Rule The World". "Same Shit Different Desk" introduces
a surf/garage keyboard riff that lends to the throwback feel of the
EP. Then, for the final track, "Too Much T.V.", the bass
jumps out front and drives the album to a close while giving the drums
another track on which to shine.
As with any really well put together EP, The National Rifle's Vanity
Press comes to an end just a little too soon, leaving you wanting
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