REVIEW: Tora! Tora! Torrance!: A Cynic's Nightmare
Tora! Tora! Torrance!: A Cynic's Nightmare [The Militia Group, 2003] (mp3s)
Three words? colour me cynic
While reviewing this album, I took some time to read up on Tora! Tora Torrance!. I was hoping it would help me to wrap my head around the band, to see where it is that they are coming from. But I began to notice a disturbing trend: almost all of the promotional material and reviews regarding !TTT! and their new album A Cynic's Nightmare lumped the band into the easily-defined genres of our times, like garage rock or dance-punk. But closer inspection of the album itself revealed the awful truth at its core. All the evidence was there: the church organ, the thigh-deep reverb, the long and repeating song titles, the 8 minute instrumental closer, the paisley elephant on the album cover. Tora! Tora! Torrance! are not dance-punk at all. They're prog-punk. That's right: Prog-punk. Aside from "Malmsteen-esque," is there a hyphenated phrase in the English language that is more musically unappealing? Christ.
But the sad thing is that you could trim A Cynic's Nightmare down to a lean 4 song EP and it'd be pretty darn listenable. "Yr All on Our Dance Card," "I Thought This Was a Punk Show," "Bury the Hatchet in Yr Chest" and the title track sound kind of like The White Stripes, had their blues influences been replaced by Wire and PiL. And vocalist Nick Koenigs' barking vocals are great, if you aren't hung up on actually understanding what is being sung.
he rest of the album is the bad stuff, like "Sapphire Jungle" with its single, unfunny lyric ("we don't read the books, we write them"), the uninspired "Dr. Badd" [Good god! --Ed.] and "U F O" (the aforementioned closer), which basically sounds like the band deciding to burn up that last hour of studio time.
Poor !TTT!: so much potential, but oh so many bad decisions. While I can't imagine who exactly A Cynic's Nightmare would appeal to, and cannot in good conscience suggest that anyone purchase it, I highly recommend downloading some of their better songs. They really are quite fun. For a while.