Among the things people could buy on The Americans‘ profile on the fan-funding platform Pledge Music were a mention in the production credits of The White EP, a “mystery box of untold power” and an executive producer credit. Out of those three options, you probably would’ve been best of plumping for the box of unknowable powers, because if you’d genuinely want your name on this bloodless slice of personified mediocrity you must have more self-esteem issues than TLOBF can help you with.
It’s not an offensive record by any means, but it must be one of the most un-funky and cack-handed shots at 60s/70s pop of this financial quarter. To get journalistic obligations out of the way painlessly: The White EP is the second release by the New-York-based (singer Charlie Klarsfeld was born in London) band and was produced by John Lennon’s son Sean.
The first song, ‘Try (Nobody Wants To)’ features that vanguard of sonic innovation, Daniel Merriweather. His contribution to this Classic Rock/60s pop/R&B track isn’t half as vile as his Smiths cover (for which he received death threats), and the second half actually showcases some lovely background vocals and guitar/brass interaction in the mould of Soul-revivalists The Heavy.
The funny thing about an EP called White by a band called The Americans is that a) there can hardly have been a record that has sounded more white and b) that, for a group with a name that could be taken as representative for a huge multicultural nation, there are preciously few black people in it (i.e. none). Actually, b) is not so much funny as just a bit odd. And The Americans, boys and girls, is an absolutely awful band name.
The grooves on the EP are grounded rather than loose, and there is never any danger of something interesting or challenging happening. It sounds like Ben Kweller fronting a 70s-era Elton John cover band. ‘Not Still in Love’, apart from making little grammatical sense (surely it’s ‘Not in Love Anymore’?) is an aggressively annoying pop-funk song and features a completely incongruous Phil Spector-inspired interlude that rips off that Ronettes tune that desperately needed one more time.
‘Requiem’ is the best song here by far – it’s arranged more sparsely and features a catchy verse as well as more thoughtful, sombre lyrics (“What this come down to, my love/is we danced on broken glass”). It could have fitted quite well on Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection.
There’s nothing wrong with being a revisionist kind of band, but The Americans, while meaning well and trying hard, never really capture the rawness of their idols (Prince, Stevie Wonder and Sly & The Family Stone).