The Lashes - The Stupid Stupid (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Lashes

The Stupid Stupid (2004)


The Lashes write astonishingly well-crafted pop songs, and that's not something to be taken lightly. The Seattle six (!) piece's somewhat unfortunately titled The Stupid Stupid EP is one of the best debuts I've heard in years and I'm astonished that songs this infectious haven't gained wider recognition thus far. Of course the band isn't breaking new ground as much as shuffling a well-worn deck, but their approach and attitude is fresh enough to set them apart.

With two guitars and a prominent keyboard The Lashes' sound is quite busy. There's a definite early 80s new wave influence and the band tends to lift from The Cars more than they do, say, The Ramones. Yet they've definitely captured a loud and rough feel on the EP, with producer Michael Barber keeping the band's rock wisely in the garage. Vocalist Ben Clark (er, Ben Lashes since we're eschewing surnames) cements the band with a voice that's perfectly suited to this style. His vocals fall somewhere between Ric Ocasek and Rivers Cuomo, with a hint of Robert Smith in the high range. His delivery is excited and never overly sweet. Thankfully with keyboardist Jacob Lashes providing backups (as opposed to studio trickery shamefully filling out the sound), The Lashes never come off sounding artificial or over produced.

"Death By Mixtape" is destined to become the band's defining anthem, that song that becomes their encore tune for the rest of their career. It, along with "It's Your Party," feature those cherished "keep humming hours later" chorus' that some bands would kill for. There's a bit of a This Years Model tribute in the opening to the aptly titled "Pop Song" (which also features the shamefully self-reflecting chorus "All its gonna take is just another pop song / to make everything okay"). The band's introspective side shows in "Ex-Mas (Young In Love)," but even in their moment of melancholy The Lashes can't escape the sunny, sing-along chorus' that mark their anthems.

The Lashes are writing better songs on their debut EP than some of the most popular MTV-punk acts have in their careers. If the band maintains this level of quality on their upcoming full length they'll have every right to blow up and conquer the airwaves.