The strangely named L.A. trio, Shapes of Race Cars,
specializes in glossy glam anthems as filtered through
a post-emo, pop rock blender. Slender guitar lines
and versatile layers of instrumental ornamentation
(twinkling pianos, pulsing synths, etc…) are
paired with sugary melodics, instantly bringing to
mind nineties Chicago pop rock groups (from Urge Overkill
to Woolworthy and Kill Hannah).
The slightly boneheaded swagger of opener, “Power” is quickly one-upped
by tracks like “Passenger” and “Captain,” where the early-on
egoist leanings open up to more graceful excursions into heartfelt sentiment
and momentary melancholy. On “Tokyo,” the group’s songwriter
and lead vocalist, Dylan Champion chirps, “If Tokyo was blown away I’d
be really sad,” before stringing together a lengthy semi-incoherent sentence
about “billionaires” and “tiny rooms”. But it works
to evoke the drunken mentality of confusion and pain stemming from a lost opportunity
to be with his “little girl,” and the glowering realization that
he doesn’t even have her photograph to ignite his passion.
Where “Tokyo” connects via choked up verbal confusion, but never
quite reaches an aural counterpoint, “Captain” destructs (in a good
way) within silky, intertwining chorus melodies and shivering keyboard-and-guitar
bombast. It’s a top-down-on-Sunset-Strip type of melody that could only
end with kaleidoscopic vocal canons and swirling electric fuzz.
“Kraftwerk (Invented The Disco Beat),” while arguable in its assessment
of music history, pulls together a catchy call-and-hook chorus and considerably
danceable chops. “Apocalype Hurts” harkens back to once-embarrassing
arena rock sensibilities and goofball lyrics (i.e. “yeah it’s wild
so skip the rope and rhyme”), while managing to drift lightly on a tidal
wave of flanging guitars. While Shapes of Race Cars falters slightly with the
Ramones-style spell-alongs of “Sound the Alarm,” Power stands
on its own as a tasty rush of pop-rock adrenaline.
Favorite Track: Track 5, "Captain”