For every music artist, there’s always that gigantic first leap that they must take – the first release, the one that makes, breaks, defines, stereotypes and/or changes their life forever, for better or worse. This week, a modest band, spearheaded by Vinny of Vinesauce fame and accompanied by close friend Mike, made that leap. Their outstanding debut album, while not perfect and rather lacking in momentum, offers a nice relaxing ride with what could be described as rather chill and ethereal tunes that make callbacks to the golden days of traditional rock. It doesn’t tread too far outside of safe boundaries, but for what it is, it doesn’t really need to, as the comfy guitar-and-drums-centric sound is enough for any rock fan to enjoy thoroughly.
What Could Go Wrong? professes some neat and cosy ideas both musically and lyrically. It’s not a complicated album, with simple compositional themes and motifs introduced in each track. The ideas conceived and played around with in every track is in each way unique and enjoyable, whether it be the harmonic three-note background vocals that appear throughout the lounge-rich “Along the Way”, the poppy and upbeat guitar dance in “Telephone”, the psychedelic drum strokes and wavy melodies of “Hazy”, or the sharp-shooter cliques of “Job in the City”.
Vinny’s handling of the guitar, in respect to how each note and chord is plucked and stroked out, does a grand service to the album’s laid-back sound and texture. In addition, Mike’s masterful work at percussion serves to give each track its own unique flavour and style with the different kinds of beats he’s managed to pull out of his hat. The most amazing flavour of the album, however, is Vinny’s spectacular vocal ability. On a number of the tracks, Vinny puts on a different voice to match the tone and lyrics of the track. In a sense, this gives the objective singer of each song their own character and traits. For example, in the album’s opening track, “There She Goes”, Vinny assumes the voice of a grungy, douchey and boastful man singing about the many female catches he’s made. In “Hazy”, Vinny assumes a coarse, but soothing voice that can only be described as Kurt Kobain meets Eddie Vetter, to match the soulful, psychedelic drive of the music.
What Could Go Wrong?, however, does have a slight number of things wrong, though, it’s not enough to denounce the album title as ironic. A few of these problems are the odd discrepancies in production, such as the rather compressed sound of “We Had a Little Talk” and the audio glitch effects in “Along the Way”, a track that would probably do better without those effects due to its down-to-earth nature and message.
Another is the simple fact that the entire album sounds rather same-y in its laid-back and non-explosive nature that it suffers from a mild, but easily tolerable case of what I’d like to call the ¡Uno! syndrome: where all the tracks in the album sound so alike through the course of the album that any and all excitement and interest would be completely shut off for the average listener. Fortunately, the syndrome isn’t as effective as it was for Green Day’s ¡Uno! borefest, for which this phenomenon is named, namely because of the ideas and themes that colour each track on What Could Go Wrong? The average mainstream listener who would usually listen to pop-blasters like Lady Gaga’s Artpop or accessible concept albums like Coldplay’s Ghost Stories would probably be turned off by this record. The average rock fanatic, though, would enjoy each track’s flavour despite the overall average sound.
Despite those arguably minor shortcomings, What Could Go Wrong? Is excellent in concept and execution. The musical pieces fall together neatly in place on this album, heralded by the fantastic musicianship of Vinny and Mike, where each song is gifted with a lovely suite of cool guitar-and-drum tunes, accompanied with strong and earthly vocals from Vinny. Every track works well and sounds great to the ears of the like-minded, though might shy away curious mainstreamers due to its consistently same tone and sound, despite every song on the album being decorated with its own unique spark, constrained within that sound. For Red Vox, What Could Go Wrong? is a great first leap to take, and it’ll be exciting to see in what direction Vinny and Mike will decide to take their next big leap.