CD Review: Stereos – Uncontrollable

Stereos - Uncontrollable

 

When I sat down to review Uncontrollable, I found myself confronted by an uncomfortable paradox. The second studio offering from the Edmonton based Stereos, it is one of the least impressive albums I've ever listened to. An electronic tinged pop-rock cacophony of over produced instrumentals and robotic auto-tune vocals. Not to mention the repetitive beats. The subject matter is equally as vapid. Uncontrollable is clearly meant to be a 'club album'. So I'm assuming the band merely followed that logic during the songwriting process.

The songs follow a tidy narrative of picking up a girl in a club and later banging her. Several songs literally describe the process. It is tremendously unimaginative. This album is so unoriginal that it shamelessly cannibalizes itself for material with which to fill space. Several songs on Uncontrollable have what I can only describe as musical clones. The most glaring example of this would be “Take U Home” and “Feel It”. Both are about lusting after a girl. Both are extremely similar musically and both feature a rap section by a female guest artist. Collette Carr on “Take U Home” and Reema Major on “Feel It”. Actually it might be the other way round. I always get confused because they sound bloody identical!

Uncontrollable is musical apathy at its finest. Stereos are supposedly a pop-punk band but you wouldn't know it from listening to this album. This is straight up dance-pop.

Uncontrollable gave me so many excuses to condemn it the deepest of critical hells. And I wanted to! I really did but like I said, this album presents a paradox. While Uncontrollable may never be an artistic achievement it is an extremely effective album. This record is one hundred percent grade-A club fodder. It's uncomplicated subject matter is so lowest common denominator that the it is universally accessible. I wouldn't be surprised if before long songs like “Take U Home”, “Body Move” and “Girl In The Club”, become wildly popular with the hordes of loaded club-goers who pack their favourite hotspots on a weekly basis. Uncontrollable is so well designed to do just that, it's almost genius. Which is why I have to give Stereos some credit.

On a single listen pretty much anybody can tell that this album never had the loftiest artistic ambitions. Stereos achieved exactly what they set out to do. So can I fault them for not trying to re-invent the wheel on their second album? Of course not. It certainly isn't bad. I may not care for this type of music but I do have to admit that it is very well done. The songs are all polished and produced to within an inch of their lives. This was no amateur effort. It is slightly harder to give the individual members of the band more credit if I could have actually heard their performances under the layers of electronic effects that were duct-taped onto them in post. Stereos played it safe and they played it highly commercial. A respectable enough career decision. One which will probably make these lads from Edmonton and a whole bunch of executives at Universal Music Canada a good deal of money. Stereos best evolve or come to terms with disappearing into obscurity because I highly doubt dubious efforts like “Yeah Yeah Yeah” are going to earn them everlasting musical glory.

I would never recommend Uncontrollable to anybody. In fact the only way you could probably make it slightly enjoyable is if you turned the lights off, drink five vodka limes and held a strobe light to your face. At that point you'll be so drunk and disoriented that the simplistic beats will make you move. Guaranteed. For Uncontrollable's manipulative qualities I find myself uncomfortably forced to salute Stereoes and the army of audio-engineers who worked on this album. It's masterful bullshit like this that made a cynic in the first place.