Nothing Like Our Picture
The comparison of Thinmen to Peter Gabriel is pronounced but obvious, thanks to vocalist Will Jacobsen’s aping of the singer, to say nothing of their similar dabbling in world beat. Fortunately at this stage this is more pleasing than annoying, but if and when Thinmen make another album, I hope they’ve managed to find their own voices more distinctly. They make the Gabriel connection explicit by covering his hit “Shock the Monkey;” presumably not because the first words in it are “Cover me.”
Indeed, as their website would have it, “Thinmen’s CD Nothing Like Our Picture blends Peter Gabriel, David Bowie & world beat rhythms with hand percussion, Billy Joel, The Fixx, new wave, keyboards…” Well, I decided, this I have to hear. If they pull it off, they’re kings, if not; this could be a very bad thing. The trio — Jacobsen, David Alstead, keyboards & vocals and Doug Christianson, drums, percussion & programming — are indeed making music which fits that description. I mean about blending Peter Gabriel, The Fixx and all that, not about being a very bad thing.
“Shock the Monkey” creates a mood of its own without departing too far from the original. But the second cover, “Stand or Fall,” does for The Fixx essentially what Devo’s version of “Satisfaction” did for the Rolling Stones•which is to say, nothing, if you like the original (or The Fixx’s own 1987 “live” rerecording), which I do. But it’s long been a maxim of mine that if you’re going to cover a song, cover a song — and you have a moral obligation to piss off fans of the original. In which case, well done.
As for Thinmen themselves and their gifts, actually I’d say they’re rather a talented thing. Pastel-colored songs fill this disc and depending on how you feel about that, you can say charming or you can say split. Me I say charming–especially “Vanilla” and “Pray”–if more successful instrumentally than lyrically. The lyrics are the kind which sound a lot better than they read.
But perhaps for once I should give a band the last word:
“Everyone’s a critic, shut ’em up!” –Thinmen, “Diggin’ In.”