REVIEW: Gatsby's American Dream: Ribbons and Sugar
Gatsby's American Dream: Ribbons & Sugar [Rocketstar, 2003] (mp3)
Three words? soon on MTV2
Pig heads on human bodies sit around a table feasting on a sumptuous meal. Remind you of anything? If you said Animal Farm you get a gold star. Gatsby's American Dream's sophomore effort Ribbons & Sugar is a concept album based loosely around the famous George Orwell novel. The band bio states that "...the record uses Animal Farm as a litmus test for our lives, questioning the motivation behind our ideological, political and musical rebellion... coming to the conclusion that the revolution has to happen on a personal level before it can cause a change in the real world." I don't know about the band's personal politics - but who knew musical rebellion could be so ordinary.
Arguably, it's not since the late Sixties that we've seen so many artists speaking out on political issues. Radiohead, The Dixie Chicks, Bono, and hell, even Coldplay are making very public stands about very important issues. Gatsby's American Dream chose to play "the personal is political" card, and yet cite a very vocal critique of Communism as the basis for their concept album. I don't chastise them for the political stance that they chose to take, but it's too bad that they don't seem so sure of just what that position might be.
Musically, their rebellion is primed for XFM [Ottawa's listless alt-rock radio-station. --Ed.]. Produced by James Paul Wisner (Dashboard Confessional), the distorted guitars aren't too abrasive, the screaming not too high in the mix. It's a very professional production job - but it takes some of the bite away from the weaving, mathy guitar lines, blurring the moments when they tease and play with each other. The songs here are left begging for attention under the glossy mix. Sadly, Nic the vocalist (they appear to have no last names) has decided to apply the awful sing/scream method that is so popular in hardcore these days. The final effect approaches the sound of Grade, but with million dollar production values.
The players here are great, particularly the guitarists who flex their muscles on "Epilogue," but Gatsby's squeaky-clean revolution will need a kick in the crotch if it doesn't want to be lumped in with a thousand other cookie-cutter, black hair-dyed, sideways trucker-cap, tattooed, angry colleagues.