Guess it’s just a tool of the marketing machines trying to help emerging indies stand out, but sometimes the overflow of comparisons and reference points gets in the way of enjoying a fun new original hybrid sound. Emerging with a blast out of Nashville in 2018, Parker Forbes and Cole Shugard – dba The Criticals – are explosive and infectiously engaging enough to have quickly headlined popular local festivals (FreezeFest, Spudbash) and play on the West Coast.
In promoting their stellar, stylistically varied, not a dud among them EP Mimosa Hygiene, the unnecessary hype has them being inspired by The Stone Roses, Jane’s Addiction and The Doors. Another writeup has them combining the influences of the Stones, The Strokes and the Libertines. That’s a lot of head-spinning references for a duo that from the get go just wants to have a punkish blast, out for a good time and showing up in 2019 at a spiffish disco on the opening track on the EP’s propulsive opening track “Good Lookin.”
They’re loud and brash, then all of a sudden draw back and pull a Right Said Fred vocal and whisper of “disco disco disco.” It takes about 15 minutes to get there, but the dreamy-jangly acoustic gem of a closer “Got No Love” is about as sonically far from that other vibe as possible – yet continues the party atmosphere and retro vibes perfectly.
Along the way, The Criticals treat us to a whimsical exhortation to “Treat Ya Better” complete with shimmering guitar slaps and a wafting female “oh oh oh” chorus; a rollicking pure pop/new waveish distorted vocal delight in “Homebody”; and the thumping, punchy dance rocker “Just for the Weekend.” Perhaps the quirkiest slice of tongue in cheek punkish delight is the self-reflective “Kate Moss,” which only mentions the supermodel’s first name (as a contrast to a current girlfriend) as the duo wonders “Why can’t I have a girl like Kate?” several times before wondering, “Is it just my personality?”
Yes, Criticals, it’s just your personality and don’t change a thing next time out. Keep the clean mimosas coming!