Money In The Banana Stand – Giant Steps II

  • John Ray posted
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Money In The Banana Stand

Giant Steps II - Garth's Party Warehouse

By referencing the criminally underviewed Emmy magnet-cum hipster folklore Arrested Development, front-loading their first album with pun-tacular song titles and lyrics and naming their second effort as a sequel but by a different name,Money in the Banana Stand’s sophomore Giant Steps II arrives with certain expectations. With so much silliness packed into the group’s physical product, what could the album’s sounds be but brooding, self-conscious, angry and, quite possibly, dead serious?

This school of nomenclature – the pop culture-aphasic song titles, the tween-buzzphrase imputations that confine a band to the brief moment in cultural time from which its references sprang – briefly took over post-millennial punk’s DIY scene, arriving at the same time as the tech-driven, self-made universe of starter bands that could launch an album with little need to ever leave the confines of home.

A decade onward the results are in full-bloom in MITBS’ second effort: a crisp, well-produced collection of incomplete teenage angst. Beneath his group’s slapstick surface singer Joel Young is dead serious about parties, insecurities and other terribly important things. This incongruity is in my view a devastating weakness of this approach: there can be little patience for self-importance in a band whose tales of youthful troubles are bookended by Arrested Development and Justin Bieber.

The urgency of the vocals to sporadically overload song lines’ syllable counts both pumps up the energy of an album that can’t rely on its guitars and tears the songs apart, making tracks like “Political Song For Justin Bieber To Sing” and “Lately”  play more like the sort of overcaffeinated diary ranting Young mocks on that latter track. The lilting, contemplative opening to the album’s single sticks with you, but is the exception to a scat-staccato lyrical style that rarely plays out elsewhere.

Each track seethes with the same rhetorical self-consciousness Tom Gabel and Kevin Gunther were eventually able to spin into powerful songcraft, and there are the makings of an interesting band that yet lacks an original sound. Given their website’s proclamation that it’s probably “never coming soon” and the dearth of technical progress since their first album MIBS seems unlikely to reach this point.

MIBS may be destined to the frayed edges of this generation’s punk tapestry, wound up in a style that both demands shallow revelry and haughty pretentions, deep commentary on irrelevant white peoples’ problems that fail to inspire in quite the same way as its namesake.