Sexstone has an identity crisis. They’re really good at being a pop/rock band, but they aspire to be a modern rock band. Their songwriting is really solid, but they force tones and inflections onto the sound that just don’t belong in the songs they’ve written. The vocals, which are clear, impassioned and without grit whatsoever, are often pushed to sound gritty, because that will fill the sound that they want to make on The Painful Side of True.
The same problem affects the guitars. The guitars throughout are chock full of distortion, but it’s just not necessary for these songs. They’ve got a set of melodic tunes with a great vocalist, and they spend all of their time covering up the true melodic qualities of their sound with distortion and “grit.” The best moments on this album come when they drop the pretenses and just write good songs, like “Wait for Me (Soldier’s Song),” “Lift” and the beginning of “You Know.” Both of them have some distortion, but not a lot.
Sexstone writes solid, entertaining melodic rock songs. They do not need to be covered up with machismo and distortion as much as they are. I hope that they grow into using their melodic talents in the forefront of their sound instead of as an aside to “rocking.”