It’s no secret that pretty much everyone misses grunge, in one way or another. Whether it’s the 35-year-old dad that still keeps his Pearl Jam records in pristine condition or the skater kid next door with four different Nirvana shirts, grunge is an oddly specific flavor of music that always seems to be held in high regard by a lot of different people.
So why aren’t we seeing any young bands trying their hand at grunge in 2015? After all, there’s a new Kurt Cobain documentary making headlines, and all the old mainstays of the genre (Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, to name a few) are still putting out successful records and playing sold-out shows. It seems as though no one wants to even dip a toe into what appear to many as sacred waters – essentially, they’re afraid of sounding old and tired or, if they try to put a modern spin on the classic grunge sound, screw it all up à la Puddle Of Mudd.
Superheaven, however, is of a different breed. Originally known as Daylight (the name was changed for legal purposes), the band immediately asserted itself as pure, straight-out-of-the-90’s grunge as soon as they appeared on the scene in 2009. Soaked in reverb and delightfully sludgy guitar hooks, their debut LP Jar was a force to be reckoned with, and allowed Daylight to assert themselves as mainstays within the indie punk community despite their status as its lone grunge-revivalists. The record was reissued last year under the band’s new moniker, however, after signing to SideOneDummy it was clear the Pennsylvania quartet had their eyes on the horizon. Thus came Ours Is Chrome – the slightly more subdued, mature-sounding counterpart to Jar’s breakout success.
Of course, as expected, all of the key ingredients in the Daylight/Superheaven formula return on Ours Is Chrome. The guitar sound is still as huge and dripping with fuzz as ever, and has the potential to suck the listener in and almost lull them into a daze with the band’s signature lollygagging tempos. It’s a delightful kind of trance to be in, though. The steadily-moving instrumental melodies have plenty of that shoegazy, meditative feeling that great grunge records are made up of, and actually prove so relaxing at times that it’s easy to forget that vocalist/guitarist Taylor Madison is singing about some pretty violent and depressing stuff.
Still, sometimes the droning guitars and trudging pace can prove to be too much, and there are definitely a few points on the record that tend to leave the listener desiring more in terms of experimentation. One of the things that made Jar such an excellent album was the sense of variation between tracks, and Ours Is Chrome just can’t seem to live up to that standard. Even when the band decides to change things up with cleaner guitars and slightly faster tempos (“Blur” and “Dig Into Me” being the standouts in this category), it just seems like another cookie-cutter songwriting tactic that can be passed off as “boundary pushing” in one way or another.
It seems as though, then, that Superheaven have strayed a bit too far from what made their debut so successful. The excellent lead single and opening track “I’ve Been Bored” is sure to get listeners excited, but the slow letdown of the next ten songs will show them that Ours Is Chrome, unfortunately, isn’t worth all the hype. It’s a well-done (however forgettable) grunge record, but as a follow up to Jar, it’s nothing short of disappointing.