David Young brings up-and-coming band INHEAVEN down to earth.
I don’t get INHEAVEN. Their press is excellent, having been gushingly hailed by NME, DIY, and Line of Best Fit and even Julian Casablancas as ‘ones to watch’. Their sound has been mouth-wateringly described as “dream-punk”, “dream noise punk pop” and “shoegaze and grunge for the 21st century” and the band themselves have enthusiastically discussed their influences who are all phenomenal, life-changing bands like The Cure, Nirvana, The Pixies, The Clash and Sonic Youth. Their press team sure have done a good job of making them look good.
A really good job in fact, because it must have taken a lot of work. INHEAVEN are nothing special. Their 8-song set shows them capable of writing memorable vocal lines and creating some nice textures with their fuzzy guitars and Kim Deal-esque basslines, but offers no moments of genuine engagement, excitement or originality. Their major problem is a lack of personality. Their sound, image and performance are all so generic – that’s hard to forgive for a band who call themselves “punk”. James Taylor’s and Chloe Little’s lyrics could have been written by anyone – and that’s not a reflection of their universality, but the fact that they are vague, non-committal, bland in their message and not reflective of any particular talent.
On tracks like ‘Baby’s Alright’, ‘Treats’ and ‘Regeneration’ I found myself wincing at how trite their lines could be. Take for example: “I don’t wanna bring you down, I just wanna fuck around, I’m tired of my generation, is this my generation?”. Sounding like a wasted sixth-former who thinks they’re ‘politically engaged’ isn’t a great vibe guys.
Those are the only times when INHEAVEN actually directly provoke a negative reaction though, the rest of the time they get a solid “meh” from me. They don’t have any original ideas to offer up, if they have any personalities to speak of then they don’t show it, and they don’t have any awesome riffs or melodies to compensate.
Personality and originality are not things good bands have to have, but by starting an indie band, that’s kinda what you’re signing up to. INHEAVEN just don’t deliver the goods in that respect. Their sound is emphatically not dream, noise, punk, pop, shoegaze or grunge. It sounds basically like The Vaccines with fuzz. Sometimes it doesn’t come off too badly – ‘Baby’s Alright’ has an enjoyable pulse to it, and “Drift” has some genuine emotional depth even if it does borrow quite heavily from ‘Georgia’ by Yuck and ‘My Love is Cool’ by Wolf Alice.
Overall the impression I get from INHEAVEN is of a band who are genuinely and whole-heartedly following the script of what they think an indie band should do. But they’ve got the wrong script – they mimic their influences rather than emulating them. It’s not hard to copy the sound of Nirvana or My Bloody Valentine and water it down and mix it with other things and end up with a vaguely enjoyable end product as INHEAVEN no doubt do, but a ‘one to watch’ band has to do more than this. If they are truly inspired by Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Pixies, they should do as they did, that is, invent new and exciting forms of music, challenge people, be provocative and be in sharp contrast to their contemporaries. They should be original and idiosyncratic. They are not.
INHEAVEN have spoken in interviews about how their influences were bands to “believe in” and “obsess over” that “meant things” and were “important”. If they really hold these ideals to heart, they need to have a good look at their own music and ask themselves ‘Would anyone really believe in this?’. Perhaps INHEAVEN have the talent to turn things around, but currently the answer to that question is a shrugged, blasé ‘no’.
Featured image credit: The Line Of Best Fit.