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Kris Racer-Has a Banner Year EP

krisracerKris RacerHas a Banner Year EP

Two Thumbs Down Records

A reformed punker delivers acoustic-based pop songs that don’t strike any particular nerves.

Reviews of good CDs are relatively easy to write. So are reviews of bad ones. It’s the CDs that fall squarely in the average category that are so hard to write. That’s what makes Kris Racer Has a Banner Year so hard to review: it’s a CD full of nice songs. They’re not bad, but they’re not worth jumping around about either. They’re just average.

There’s a tendency to skew towards lumping them average CDs into “bad” category by focusing on the negatives, but that should be avoided because that’s wrong. Kris Racer isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination. He’s just astoundingly normal.

His reformed-punker acoustic-based pop songs don’t strike any particular nerves – they’re not as whiny as early Dashboard material, but then again they don’t feel as gritty and passionate as those songs either. They’re not saccharine sweet, but they do have a dose of cute dispersed throughout (kinda like dropping a couple drops of black paint into a bucket of white paint). This cuteness is especially evident in the vocals, which have a jubilant youthful quality to them. This unusual tone will inevitably endear some to Racer’s music and send others fleeing for their lives, especially in “This is Your Emergency”. I’m more on the “flee for my life” side, but at the same time, the songs have enough hooks to offset any discomfort inflicted by the vocal tone (especially “North Milwaukee Damen” and “Banner Year”).

The songwriting isn’t bad, but it doesn’t break any boundaries – we’ve heard these rhythms and chord patterns before. There just isn’t anything here that says “I’M KRIS RACER AND YOU NEED TO KNOW ME.”

The most aggravating thing about average CDs is that since there’s not any pinpoint-able malignancy in the sound, it’s hard to offer advice or even anything constructive. I’d just like to hear Kris Racer experiment more and find some unique sounds for us to hear. Right now it’s just not something I would spin for fun. It just doesn’t get there.

-Stephen Carradini