It’s Not What You Think is the latest release from UK rock band Vertical Noise. A mixture of noisy pop, punk, and a little bit of garage rock, It’s Not What You Think is reminiscent of tunes by bands like Blood Red Shoes or The Subways. The album has upsides but feels largely underdeveloped. Certain songs feel slapped together and some of the lyrics and melodies come off sounding bland. It’s Not What You Think wasn’t completely unenjoyable, but Vertical Noise could have benefited from putting a bit more time into developing the songs on this album.
It’s Not What You Think starts off with the song “Club Music,” a knock against the titular genre. Musically, the opening track is solid. The riffs are interesting enough and I admire the band’s use of different time signatures in an otherwise straightforward rock song. The issue I had was with the song’s lyrics. A punker not liking dance music was a boring song concept 30 years ago when D.O.A. wrote “Disco Sucks,” it’s definitely not something I needed to hear again. The cliché nature of the lyrics and the over-the-top snotty vocals just came off sounding uninspired.
The principal issue I had with It’s Not What You Think is that it feels unfinished. The song “Twatellite Navigation” goes from a sparse, twangy guitar intro, to a dead stop, to the full band joining in on what sounds like, and what I genuinely thought was a completely different song. A similar problem arises in the song “Countless Video Interruptions.” Around the three-minute mark, a point where the band could have easily ended the song, we get another dead stop and another out of place musical passage. I’m all for experimenting with different sounds, but Vertical Noise’s use of them just didn’t sound natural.
While I clearly took issue with some of what I heard, there were some enjoyable moments throughout It’s Not What You Think. The song “Nice Stuff” was enjoyable. The band pulls off an interesting, fuzzed out instrumental and the melodies throughout, especially in the chorus, are solid. The title track and closer (which is its own song on Spotify but is tagged onto the end of “Countless Video Interruptions” on Bandcamp) has a great punky intro before ending the album in a slow, reverb-heavy ballad.
I think I would’ve enjoyed this album more had Vertical Noise put a little more time into the writing process. It’s Not What You Think has its moments, but the slapped-together nature of some of the songs really took me out of it. Given the band’s love of odd timing and noisy passages, I think there’s potential for a much more solid release.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Mike Milito