Stay+ - Arem [EP]
We're not here to talk about the fact that Stay+ used to be called 'Christian AIDS', or that they carry on with all that silly 'anonymous' lark, or the fact this EP is being released on a 50" QR code, nor that they have a weird, potentially offensive or confusing approach to music videos/interviews/all that lot either. Everyone else has done that to death. We're getting down to brass tacks. We're here to talk about their music, like civilised adults, as I'm sure the band would love us to do. But sadly, when presented with their freshest little release, Arem, there's not a great deal to talk about.
This isn't to say that the release is awful, or even just plain bad; there's just not a lot of it, and what there is feels kinda like butter, scraped over too much bread. Opener 'Call Him' plods along in a similar fashion to the rest of the EP, with great big pulsing beats and looped, heavily processed vocals. For two minutes and twenty seconds, we're treated to a slow, distorted crescendo of vibrating drum rattles and the lead vocal line "Call him" over and over, and it feels great; then, it all kicks in, which is also pretty great. And then carries on doing the same thing for another three-and-a-half minutes. It ain't a bad song, and it'll get the kids dancing like nobody's business, but when you're a sad loser like me listening to this on the way to work or in his bedroom - sans drugs, cigarettes and alcohol - it all gets fucking boring, fast.
And maybe that's where I'm missing the point; Stay+ make party music for party people, and of course this type of electronic music has a long tradition of simple, effective repetition. The band, when people have managed to pin them down for five seconds, claim Modeselektor as a major influence, and you can trace a lineage between the two artists and back through the past twenty, thirty, forty years to when somebody first invented the electronic drum machine. But there's no innovation here; no desire to throw any interesting elements into their music, even after umpteen repeats of the same, admittedly strong idea. It feels like the band took ten minutes to write a twenty minute EP.
Highlights include the feedback ambience of the title track, the shortest and most radically different track on the disc, and the crackling, feverish rhythms in the closing number, 'Dandelion Seed'. The band are clearly masters of carefully chosen vocal samples, with subtly understated hooks lodged deep into each of the tracks.
Stay+ are alright. This EP isn't that good, really. That's essentially what I could've said in the first paragraph of this review, and been done with it. But I felt like stringing it out a bit. How cheated do you feel?