Narc Twain’s self titled EP is an alternative experiment with social commentary done right. The first track “Downhill” opens with rocking and stinging guitar that leads into vocals by lead singer Tommy Siegel that will remind you of the 90s alternative scene. In some way the verses even have a slight resemblance to Blind Melon’s “No Rain.” “Look at yourselves in the mirror and repeat after me,” Siegel repeats over and over again in the tune telling listeners that “It’s all downhill.” And while the message of the track is bleak, in its instrumentation the song is actually quite upbeat and that contrast helps to lift the song beyond a typical downer. It’s the best the EP has to offer, but don’t for a second think that the rest of the album is “all downhill,” as there are many gems to be found.
“Future Shock” is another highlight to be found on Narc Twain, and as with all of the tracks on the album they are more than just musical pieces, but they are songs of substance. Narc Twain has lots to say about the state of America and they are not shying away from speaking their mind. “There’s no color that can mask the shade of shit you’re in,” Siegel speaking frankly of the USA as he gives examples of why he’s “afraid of the future shock”while in the present he and all Americans face such problems as drinking “what passes for water.” The chorus, like in “Downhill” is awesomely catchy, but it never takes away from the serious tone the band is taking. There is a long solo towards the end of the song that is experimental with squeaks that may unsettle some listeners, but that may be what Narc Twain is after.
The middle of the album brings out the types of tunes that by now we are used to by the band. In “Same Shit” the group gets a bit more punk rock, with a talking commentary throughout the verses about how every decade the “same shit” repeats itself. “It’s the same shit in a different century so excuse me I fail to see the difference,” Siegel sings in an upbeat tone playing with the overall mood. Some people cope with problems by plastering a big fake smile on their faces, and it’s that sort of attitude, that helps to bring even more attention to the underlying horrifying situations plaguing us.
“No Connection” is over nine minutes long. But don’t let that number intimidate you from listening. It starts off with perhaps the heaviest topic the band has covered thus far. “Strange. Michael Hasting’s in a car crash. Strange. Watch in burn and turn to ash.” Here Narc Twain is speaking of a real journalist who died, some say under suspicious conditions. If you’re not familiar with the story look it up to inform yourself and get a better sense of what the band is trying to achieve on this particular song. To say that a chorus is quite infectious on what one might say is the darkest of all the tracks on the album, sounds a bit meaningless . But the chorus will get stuck in your head. There is another long solo towards the end of the tune which drags a bit but it only helps one to take that time to ponder what Narc Twain is addressing here.
The album falters just a bit on “God Given Right,” perhaps because the musicality for once matches the lyrics. It packs a punch, but a bit too depressingly. There is also a shift right in the middle of the track where it does a total 180 and it sounds like you are listening to another song all together. Narc Twain isn’t the first band to ever do this, but the change is a bit too jarring, especially in a song that is as heavy as this. And speaking of experimental, the EP closes with the most radical piece, “And Today, Nothing, clocking in at over seven minutes long. There are layering of spoken news clips dispensed throughout the tune and with the Siegel honestly singing “It’s like the more I try the harder it is,” it comes together in a melancholy feast.
If you’re looking for smart and truthful music with social commentary that never comes across as pushy, pick up a copy of Narc Twain, share it with a friend, and discuss. Because this isn’t an album one simply just listens to, it’s the kind of album one talks about.