BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Given the band’s outrageously explosive stage performances and its stint opening for (and being blessed by) superstar Lady Gaga, it’s past time Semi Precious Weapons hit the pop stratosphere. Thus, Aviation is the Big Move, an attempt to capitalize on the forward momentum generated in the past few years.
Unfortunately, that move includes dropping most of the personality that gained the band attention in the first place. Gone are the big-ass glam rock guitar chords and leader Justin Tranter’s brazen vocal theatrics; in their place are atmospheric electropop arrangements and a pouty singing persona resting firmly in emo territory. Indeed, the preponderance of electronics seems to preclude the presence of a band at all – all you need is some programming, a few guitar licks and Tranter’s newfound heart-on-sleeve moan and you’ve got an album. The Gaga influence on the production is obvious, even if her more over-the-top tendencies – i.e. the factors that probably led to the bond betwixt her and the band in the first place – apparently had little impact whatsoever. Too bad; would-be anthems like “Hands Up” (“Hands up, motherfucker!” – seriously?), “Scream to the Sky” and the downright muddled “Cherries On Ice” could use her ribcage-rattling dancefloor chutzpah instead of the anemic Katy Perry-style dance-pop in use here. Though given the attempt at club thump that is the perfectly generic “Drink,” even that wouldn’t have been salvation.
A few melodies stick to the ribs – cf. “Aviation High” and “Look to the Stars.” But a lack of memorable tunes and the leaching of personality from a band that once overflowed with it pretty much murders any hope of chart stardom.
DOWNLOAD: “Aviation High,” “Look into the Stars”