While the pop sounds of the Strokes, Doves, the Vines, and the Hives were burning up the U.K. charts in 2002, England's own Vex Red drove a wedge into that trendy scene with their aptly titled, rough-cut debut Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire. Intricate electronic layers mixed with blazing guitar riffs back Vex Red's hearty rock effort, and it's definitely a move away from what America knows as alternative metal. It's smart and catchy, and the emotional roar of songs like "Untitled" and "The Closest" highlights frontman Terry Abott's angry, sweet vocals. The class continues on Vex Red's ballad moment, "Bully Me." There are hints of Radiohead and Tool, but Vex Red's structured rock sound indicates that they're not fully replicating what's come before. Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire suggests Vex Red's strength to sing of middle-class anxiety without it being repetitive. Bush tried to do it way back when, but no one cared because Nirvana was king. Now, Vex Red has room to do it because pop music can only go so far.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson