A Detroit-based duo (any resemblance to the White Stripes ends at this point) when they recorded the tracks that would more than half a decade later become their first album, Supra Argo split with one EP release to their name. Having reformed, the opportunity to release the debut album that never was back then must seem like musical closure of sorts.
I could quite easily use this review to disagree with a few of the points made in the press release accompanying the album. The author of said press release likens this album (recorded circa 1996, shelved until 2003) to the work of Simian, Travis, and Radiohead. Listening to the album reveals a kind of dark electronic pop that now sounds ten years out of time. Supra Argo actually belong to a definition of alternative music that predates even Radiohead’s earliest releases.
Initial impressions are not good. “Off Blue” showcases some thoughtfully layered synth sounds, while sounding like nothing so much as a demo track for a by now outdated piece of equipment. The album can only really improve from there. The black comedy of “Crash My Car”, with lyrics like “I ran your dog over and you can’t even sue me” delivered in a nervous croon by Collin Rae (most of the songs are sung by Karen Sandvoss, Supra Argo’s other half), is memorable for something more resembling the right reasons, as is the hymnal harmonising on “Headless Giant”.
But traces of that first impression last. While this is not a bad album—Supra Argo spring the occasional surprise melody, and they’re even danceable on “Silveresque”—there’s the sense that it was a little out of time when it was recorded, which makes it even more of a period piece now.
Written by Damian McVeigh.