The Datsuns

The Datsuns

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Never mind the garage punk, here comes the cock rock revival in the form of New Zealand's Datsuns and their alternately righteous and ridiculous self-titled debut. While the group has been associated with the Strokes, the Hives, and the White Stripes, this isn't exactly accurate -- though the Datsuns are very much a "return to rock," the rock they return to, and how they return to it, is considerably different. While the other bands mix mid-'60s mod and garage rock with late-'70s punk (as well as other influences), the Datsuns re-create the sound of a beer- and weed-fueled Saturday night in 1973, borrowing and blending the revving guitar riffs and choked, macho vocals of Thin Lizzy, Bad Company, .38 Special, and on occasion, the hornier side of Led Zeppelin. Unabashedly heavy and silly at the same time, the band approaches the excesses of '70s rock in a relatively straightforward fashion, as compared to overtly stylized acts like Urge Overkill or Spinal Tap's outright parody. Ultimately, the Datsuns' take may be the most contrived out of all of these, since they replicate the details of the music so slavishly. From the phased vocals on "MF From Hell" to the Deep Purple-esque organ that introduces "In Love" to the omnipresent cowbells, The Datsuns provides a nearly exact replica of a generically entertaining, early-'70s hard rock album. At their best, as on the opener, "Sittin' Pretty," and the wonderfully stupid "Harmonic Generator," the Datsuns rise above their influences and produce some undeniably fun rock, but too often the album falls prey to the indulgences that sank the bands who inspired them. In particular, the second half features too many squealing guitars and vocals and not enough memorable hooks. Though their melodic sensibilities desert them by the end of the album, on their debut the Datsuns prove that they can craft vintage-sounding hard rock like no one else. Whether or not that's a good thing is debatable, but The Datsuns does feature more worthwhile songs than some of the band's inspirations managed in an entire career.

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