Big Talk – [Album]

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

It's always interesting to see what comes when a member of a really popular band splinters off to do a solo project because, almost invariably, the results are not what anyone expects. There's always conjecture about what sounds combined to make that original big group, of course, but the bets for what actually fuels an artist's engine when left to his/her own devices are almost always off; for example, Mick Jagger's focus tends to be more on R&B when he's away from The Rolling Stones, and Greg Graffin's first work away from Bad Religion was a folk record. Each of these artists (and there are many more) has proven that their muse is only contained by their individual imaginations and, when something does come forth, each creative turn made only deepens or adds more dimensions to their musical persona; the results might not always be the best things ever, but they're always interesting – however briefly.

It's easy to pay lip service to that “creative drive,” but even the knowledge of how far an artist may tread apart from his main creative squeeze won't prepare listeners for Big Talk – Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci's first solo album.

Right from the opening surge of “Katzenjammer,” listeners listeners will be knocked clean on their collective ass as, with a few synths, easy beats and so-slick-they-shine production techniques, Big Talk faithfully recalls the giants of the first cascade of New Wave bands (think Todd Rundgren, The Cars and Joe Jackson, and you're right on the money) without one shred of sarcasm employed or irony implied. All the requisite parts for a 1984-issue New Wave anthem are right there in “Katzenjammer” which sets the whole album up to be a “love it or loathe it” affair; there can't be any middle ground because the song is just so meticulously constructed.

So do you, dear reader, like New Wave? If you don't, click away from this review right now because the glossy, impossibly neat, impossible tidy hits just keep on coming as “Katzenjammer” gives way to “Getaways” (Big Talk's first single, it honestly sounds like a rewrite of “Is She Really Going Out With Him” from stem to stern) which begets “Under Water” (the best song on the album, it comes close to a forgotten Pleased To Meet Me-era Replacements B-side) and “The Next One Living” (which could have been a Brit-pop hit in 1986). Each of these songs sound so solid and so close to being a cover of something that it will have listeners rushing to check liner notes/websites/anything that might prove the tracks aren't originals, but such efforts prove to be fruitless; each of these songs is indeed an original, which means that Ronnie Vannucci really does have this stuff coursing through his veins – against all probability. As soon as listeners accept that, Big Talk gets exponentially easier to listen to.

As the record continues – tossing dispossessed Eighties anthems out left and right – the heads of listeners won't stop spinning as “Replica,” “Girl At Suneise,” “Living In Pictures” and “A Fine Time To Need Me” each strike retro gold and work their way to becoming a guilty pleasure for those who dislike New Wave; somehow these songs overcome their obvious generic shortcoming. It's incredible, but it's true – a good song can defy taste and win fans no matter what. Big Talk is proof of that.



Big Talk – "Getaways" – Big Talk


Big Talk's self-titled debut is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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