Evolution of Energy

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Evolution of Energy is the debut of LA's S.T.U.N., which is merciful shorthand for the clunky "Scream Toward the Uprising of Nonconformity." A collection of well-executed aggro-pop tunes, Energy is the document of a band eager to make noise, but doing so through the throats and ideas of others. It's one thing to wear influences on your sleeve. But it's entirely another to fashion your wardrobe from them. Though the polemic-filled lyric book refers to him as "Communicator Avant-Garde," Christiane J. is really just a vocalist, and a whiny one at that. But his high-pitched siren is fully capable of channeling screeching hall of famers like Zack de la Rocha ("Movement") or Pixies-era Frank Black ("Annihilation of the Generations"), which completes each song's instrumental similarity to the particular influence. Neither of the songs is bad, necessarily. It's just that their blatancy is off-putting. "Movement," in particular, travels so closely to Rage, you half expect Christiane to scream "F*** you I won't do what you tell me!" during the song's surging breakdown. Instead, he chants "We are just a moment away" as Neil Spies' guitar squeals get progressively louder. Evolution of Energy is also plagued by heavy-handed politicking, from its generically subversive artwork ("Get your mind back!" it encourages; "This is an invasion!" it screams) to an unfortunate introduction by a disembodied female airport announcer voice intoning tired rallying cries like "Every action has a reaction" and "Equality is coming for us." The band's passable cover of Wire's apocryphal classic "Reuters" seems to play into its studied, boilerplate consciousness-raising. Evolution of Energy does offer a few tightly wound alt.rock gems, especially the Andy Wallace-mixed "Watch the Rebellion Grow" or "The Future is Now." But even here, the played-out song titles are like Molotov cocktails without a wick. S.T.U.N.'s social agenda might very well be legitimate. But when its lyrics and instrumentalism seem reassembled from existing or previously groundbreaking material (and make one reach for those old Rage, Pixies, and Jane's Addiction LPs), how much of a statement is really being made?

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