Radar Secret Service

Stop Communication

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The early '80s are back and better than ever, or so at least this trio believes, and why not? The ghosts of Joy Division, the Cure and plenty of other U.K. post-punk acts hang heavily over this debut record, and while Interpol rode a similar combination to its own sort of fame, at least Radar Secret Service isn't so openly borrowing from Kitchens of Distinction while they're at it. The production on Stop Communication isn't as Martin Hannett as some, and that's actually to the band's benefit -- the bass may be prominent, but everything is more of a rushed, almost demo-level mixdown, occasional guitar effects notwithstanding. One can almost imagine the herky-jerky moves of intense young emo kids to songs like the non-stop "Hard Hearts," "Nickelodeon," and "Destroy." Bassist/lead singer R. Glen Vegas has a good enough vocal that isn't too wracked or doom-laden, more lightly crisp and appropriate enough for the material as it stands; a bit of a toned down Mark Burgess in ways. Occasionally he futzes around with it a bit in a gurgling and/or whining fashion -- "Let's Be Cruel" appears to be their Smiths' move of sorts -- but it's not his best approach. Guitarist Double Down often has some really thrilling moments -- the abbreviated solos on "Shut In," the introductory spirals of "You Are Hollywood" and "Pencil Stabs" -- and drummer the Halls of Medicine does a fine job throughout. Some songs are definitely time killers than can be shrugged off -- "Active Life" could have been drowned at birth without any tears -- but Stop Communication is still a pretty good starting point for something that could yet be the band's own.