The Silent Type: Everything but passion

The Richmond-based band The Silent Type contains among its ranks a former member of defunct local heroes Excitebike, singer/guitarist Nathan Altrice. Excitebike was, until its untimely breakup in 2001, renowned for its tight “Emo-core” sound, especially the group’s twin guitar/dual vocal mode of presentation.
Of course, by having been in a much loved band, Altrice has set up his new group for unavoidable comparisons— by those who’ve had the good fortune to hear either band. Old-time music fan Emmet Boaz is not among them. “I’ve never heard of The Silent Type. If it ain't acoustic, I don't do it,” he says.
The Silent Type’s soon-to-be-released EP, 7 Songs, is actually one of the better CD’s I’ve received this year, but some say Excitebike was it, and at least the fraction of that whole which formed The Silent Type did not head off in the right direction. I’m going to attempt to take out the “but” from this review, and merely concentrate on what is: the group’s aforementioned EP, of which an unmastered copy appeared in my box.
The EP begins with the quick 3/4 time jaunt, "Alarms," which follows the time honored song-writing tradition of starting off soft and spacey and slowly building to a fairly noisy climax. Long sustained electric guitar chords fill in the spaces between the staccato, mostly two-chord, acoustic musings, in a mildly early Pink Floyd fashion.
Altrice has a vocal style that would probably be best described as a cross between a non-whiny Thom Yorke from Radiohead and one of the singers from that great band’s many imitators-– Coldplay, Travis, etc. (who basically sound like non-whiny Thom Yorkes anyway).
Track 2, "One Last Bedtime Story," recounts the night-time fantasies of a young boy as he explores the shadowy world of his room, where “his clothes are all goblins,” and a “chair is a castle”– this is nostalgia for childhood of the best possible kind. Instrumentally, the song also is a nice piece of work, with the xylophone of the verses at least subconsciously suggesting times of youth, and nicely layered electric guitars infecting the choruses. This track is by far the highlight of the EP, melodically as well as lyrically– no question about it.
From there the EP makes the decision to take things easy-– shifting into low gear and slow-rocking, Goo Goo Dolls style. I’m not sure the group made the best decision with the track order of this CD, putting the two fastest songs first, followed by five others that range the gamut of slow to pretty damn slow, but I suspect that the order has not been finalized.
Leaving out The Silent Type’s big “but,” and looking at the group’s new EP from merely a critical standpoint, I’d have to say that the songs on 7 songs are more or less average examples of lo-key indie rock that generally don’t leave much of an impression on you after you’ve listened to them.
Perhaps in this case, Altrice might want to pay some attention to the “but”-sayers and add a bit of what made Excitebike so great. Passion, perhaps?

Jamson Mason and The Silent Type perform at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar Friday, July 11. No cover, 9pm.