FlatStanley might not make the most striking music, but they're a slick act. They have wonderful silvery white album packaging, a flashy website, and girls in bikinis who hang around at their gigs, handing out FlatStanley key rings and making them look almost like real rock stars.The band isn't bad either. Well-balanced production by Theo Crous (of Springbok Nude Girls, and more recently Kobus!), and reliable arrangements compliment the seriously pretty lead guitar work by Neil Potgieter. The songs themselves, though unlikely to stick in your head, aren't too bad and "Treading air" is a decent radio track.
The problem, though, is that the lead singer, Andrew Mac, wastes his great tone and vocal range by singing incredibly badly. Perhaps he doesn't understand that Voice is a musical instrument like any other, and needs to be played well and practised. It's not enough to be talented (which he is), you also have to work at it. Mac has an unfortunate tendency to lazily imitate the worst pop-rock and pop cliches. He overdoes it a bit too.His worst vocal mannerism is one you've probably seen Idols contestants fall prey to... he makes this grunting noise at the many supposedly emotional points in every song. Instead of evoking the intended earnest emotion, Andrew just sounds like a large penguin suffering from severe indigestion. So on "Truly loving you" 'winter comes calling/mercury falling' becomes 'w(grunt)er comes calling/m(grunt)rcury falling'. And he does it over and over again, until you eventually take the CD out of the CD player, thinking "Damn, I must get that thing cleaned sometime..." Isn't it the producer's job to tell a band about something like this? It ruins many of the otherwise decent ballads on the album.FlatStanley have the image thing down. They've got the packaging, and the publicity machine behind them in the form of uber-cool sponsor Levi's.But no matter how many hot chicks hang around half naked at their gigs, they'll have to sort out the irritating singing, or they'll remain just another average white SA rock band.
- Jean Barker
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