Most bands invariably follow an evolutionary course similar to that of, say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers or The Lemonheads. They start out with a sound that’s raw, full of self-seeking and somewhat gauche (and can often be all the more endearing for it). Then, for better or worse, they gradually hone a more polished, universally palatable style. Call it artistic refinement. Or call it mellowing with age.
With their third full-length, Detox, the Ontarian four-piece Treble Charger has taken the opposite tack. The band that proffered the bittersweet alt-rock ballads “Red” and “Christ Is on the Lawn” on their 1997 American debut Maybe It’s Me has now regressed into the same stale, uninspired, generic drivel as any number of their punk-pop identikit peers. The seven-minute title track that closes the album is one of the few songs that harks back to the earlier — and better — debut, while the rest smacks of a deliberate attempt to churn out shamelessly radio- and groupie-friendly dreck pace Blink 182 or Busted. For confirmation of this approach, look no further than the superstar fan club spiel that introduces the multimedia portion of Detox: “Hey, thanks for buying our CD!! We’re stoked about giving our TRUE fans a look inside the Treble Charger world and giving you access to exclusive footage, music and of course some very quirky and funny personal moments.”
What explains the change? Vocalist/guitarist Greg Nori produces and manages the far more successful — at least in terms of money and popularity — Sum 41. So maybe, after the failure of Treble Charger’s 2000 single “American Psycho” (from Wide Awake Bored) to garner the anticipated US airplay, Nori, Bill Priddle, et al decided to follow Sum 41’s lead and tailor their sound to accommodate the lucrative commercial market just beyond their southern border. Whatever the reason, the change has stunted any creative growth Treble Charger might have had, resulting in a bland, woefully unoriginal album that ought to be consigned to the cookie-cutter heap.