CHAINS, THE: On Top of Things!: CD

Meticulously executed and profoundly anemic Nuggets-box-set ‘60s rehash from five Francophones (apparently Quebecois) (which would, i guess, make this Nuggets-box-set ‘60s rehash Vol. 2), who are to be commended for their impeccable playing and production and excoriated for their stunning and utter listlessness. I mean, this record is so sedate that it sounds like records that tried to sound like this back in the EIGHTIES sounded like, and that is about as far from a compliment as it gets (ladies and gentlemen – for those who couldn’t handle the sheer, animal passion of the Fuzztones – here’s the Chains!). At their best, the band evoke the clinical calculations of the Spongetones (minus the occasionally brilliant results); at their worst – a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown” so tepid it makes the Brian Briggs version sound like the work of blood-crazed Neanderthal sex workers – they sound like the only band they could ever be capable of out-rocking at The Great North American Rock-Off might be the Shoes. As far as i can tell, the only thing The Chains might conceivably be considered “on top of” is a frickin’ road map. Just say “non!” BEST SONG: “Fortune Teller,” although this version is much too slow for my manly tastes, and wouldn’t anybody who would be into the song own several serviceable versions (Hollies, Dogs) already? BEST SONG TITLE: “Nervous Breakdown” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Bass player Frédéric Charest has the most accent marks in his name; guitarist Sébastien Hould and drummer Éric Boulanger are tied for second.

 –norb (Get Hip)