herald

Monday 18 December 2017

DINGLE'S FINEST? eh, WE DON'T THINK SO

The Academy> CHRIS WASSER

Where did Walking on Cars come out of? We're not talking about the name (not even lead singer Patrick Sheehy could explain that one). We're told that the Dingle five-piece won something called the Red Bull Bedroom Jam in 2012 (whatever that is) before cracking the Irish top-30 with a pair of well-received singles the following year.

And now, here we are at the Academy - a sold-out gig, a new EP and a major distribution deal with Universal Music. Indeed, Walking on Cars (the Irish band most likely to pull a Kodaline in 2015) is ready for its close-up. Pity about the tunes.

What we have here is a nondescript mish-mash of bland, day-time radio balladry and soggy, insignificant pop-rock that makes the Coronas sound like the National.

In fact, Walking on Cars' staggeringly dull serving of heart-on-sleeve lyricism and lifeless melody-making is an awful waste of talent. Because that's what these players clearly have. They're just not applying it correctly.

whiny

They gave up college for this music lark. They rented a house together. They have, in fact, been playing for four years. Sheehy - a rake-thin indie-rock pin-up - sounds like James Arthur on a bad day (figure that one out, lads).

Accompanied by keyboardist Sorcha Durham, bassist Paul Flannery, guitarist Dan Devane and drummer Evan Hadnett, the band already has the fans on side - we just haven't heard an album yet. That's probably a good thing (it gives them more time to work on the song-writing).

There are shades of Coldplay in the mix. Clearly, they've been listening to a lot of Kodaline too, but Walking on Cars is no copycat project. It's just a group that hasn't yet figured out its own identity.

Sheehy is stuck in one mode - whiny, needy frontman with a raspy vocal that does nothing for lyrics about God being irrelevant and stepping out in front of a speeding vehicle (a bit melodramatic, aren't we?).

Take away his acoustic guitar, and the poor chap doesn't know what to do with himself. So, a roadie hands him a spare floor tom and he goes to town on it (this whole singer-bangs-the-drums trend needs to stop now).

Catch Me If You Can, Two Stones, Tick Tock - every song sounds the same, wrapped in sluggish guitar riffs and sappy choruses. Performance-wise, Walking on Cars keep things tight, lively and engaging.

It's such a shame, then, that they've gone out of their way to sound so incredibly boring. Best of luck to them - they'll need it.

HHIII

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