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Here’s a band I’ve never heard of before, Unnatural Helpers, knocking out a brand of indie rock that sounds ever so familiar already. They’re the kind of band that was ten a penny in the post-grunge era, with spiky mid-paced pop songs and bratty slacker delivery, like Guided By Voices and Archers of Loaf and Nirvana and all those bands from that era that sounded like Guided By Voices and Archers of Loaf and Nirvana (let’s face it, there was a time when everybody had one).
The mid-’90s comparisons are unavoidable but there’s nothing wrong with operating within specific genre boundaries if you’re doing it well, and much like contemporaries such as Cloud Nothings and DIIV, Unnatural Helpers perform in a likeable style, even attempting a schoolyard angst anthem in ‘Hate Your Teachers’, although the following track ‘Over You’ is the album’s best example of the band’s occasional tendency to drift into tasteful but anonymous workmanlike plod-rock, thankfully tempered by a reasonably versatile tone palette which sees them swing from feedback-peppered angst jams to more casual pop numbers. Closer ‘Julie Jewel’ is a particularly effective bit of laid back Pavementesque slacker fuzz with a super catchy brass hook and falsetto backing vocals towards the end for a clattering jam through an amusingly lengthy fade-out to go out on their strengths.
Guided By Voices is the band I keep thinking of the most as I listen to this, though, both in their aesthetic and in the patience you need to sift out the particularly inspired parts. I swear there are some here if you want to look for them though.
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