Audio Mixers: Mikey Young; Joe Sampson ; Steven Marr.
The Salad Boys come by their Flying Nun sound honestly, hailing as they do from the label's birthplace of Christchurch, New Zealand. The second album, and first for Trouble in Mind, Metalmania has the jangle, the low-key songwriting, the off-handed vocal style, and the melodic skill of great Nun bands like the Chills, the Bats, and the Clean down pat. It's almost certainly second nature to a band raised on that music. The trio also seem to have soaked in the sound of mid-'80s American jangle pop, and it's easy to hear bits of R.E.M. and the Feelies floating around, especially in the guitars. All these influences add up to something creeping toward original in the end, and the album is more than the sum of its borrowed parts. With songs as strong as the very punchy "Dream Date" or "Daytime Television," which incorporates some cool electronic effects reminiscent of the Church's "Electric Lash," the album makes a strong impression right away. The uptempo and louder, more electric guitar-driven songs fare the best. When the lads work up a head of steam, as on "I'm a Mountain" or "Taste Bomber," their sound leaps out of the speakers like the best indie rock. The more relaxed songs don't have quite the same degree of impact and tend to blend together just a little, though "Better Pickups" is extremely pretty and the layering of guitars throughout is exquisite. That small issue aside, Metalmania is a strong album, definitely full of promise and quite a few songs that wouldn't sound out of place on a playlist with classic Flying Nun tracks. The Salad Boys are another fine example of the oddball brilliance that naturally flows out of New Zealand like a never-ending stream. ~ Tim Sendra