Middle Class Rut – No Name No Color

Release Date 15/11/2010 (Bright Antenna Records)

By Chris Gilliver

No Name No Color“I came into this world as nothing, I ain’t gonna leave that way,” sings Zack Lopez on ‘I guess You Could Say’, the track which, on 10 March 2009, Zane Lowe damningly named his Hottest Record in the World. In a world of 6 billion people, Zane Lowe is a waste of human matter, and a man who acts like he is better than the music/musicians he features.

This is, of course, not Middle Class Rut’s fault, but their terrible name is. As the opening line mentioned above, from ‘I Guess You Could Say’, states, it is forging an escape from a middle class rut that fascinates them – confusingly, they want to escape from the very thing, that is also the name under which the act is carving out a meaty wedge of success pie. Badly thought out, I think, and not least because it is a banal topic, done to death by a thousand other musicians. It is a formulaic, predictable stance to take, confirming that the band’s opinions are much less rebellious than it thinks i.e. they’re not rebellious at all.

OK, so lyrically Middle Class Rut has little to say, but musically this is not the case. The duo makes an amazing amount of noise, and one that is so sonically driven that it could drown out the sound of a nuclear holocaust. “Simplicity rules” is the overriding ethos, manifesting itself in chugging, driving guitar riffs (matched with screeching high notes that sound like tears in the space-time continuum) and Lopez screaming James Dean Bradfield-like, then breaking into moments of unexpected melody. On first listen it’s an awesomely effective template, but it does start to wear a little bit thin by track 3 ‘New Low’, and in the end it is an inability to ditch this template for something/anything else that gives this album its overarching vibe, one of  monotony.

It’s a shame because, as exampled by that fantastic, picked acoustic guitar riff going on in the background of ‘I Guess You Could Say’, or ‘Dead End’, which comes as a massive Big Pink-esque sigh of relief, there is actually a very good band struggling to break through the atomic blast. “I ain’t half what I could be,” Lopez sings on the latter track. Never a truer word was spoken.

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