by Hobey Echlin
While the rest of Detroit does the sweat-soaked garage-rock thing, the Chrome Flies tap into timeless, Beatle-esque songwriting and Stones-y grooves on this debut disc. It’s loftier and tougher territory, but with a lineup that includes local music-biz vets Mike and Andrew Nehra (Second Self, Kid Rock, Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise), it makes sense that the Flies would reach for higher ground. And most of the time the band does reach it, dipping into INXS-cum-Stones dirty-pop swagger (“All I Do”), Lenny Kravitz good-time mid-tempo sing-alongs (“Angel”) and hook-filled, psychedelic guitar rave-ups that would make the Gallagher brothers blush (“Cracks”). The biggest drawback here is that the Flies are such a tight band that these timeless rock chops come across more developed than the songs. When Flies songs are so solid they’re stiff, singer Andrew Nehra struggles to find what he can add melodically to the wall-to-wall arrangements. “Here I Am,” sounds like a would-be Seal song burdened by having to rock out. When Nehra’s given some room, he delivers, as on “Black,” which builds from a surly growl to guitar-stung desperation to string-section urgency with the singer rising to the occasion. But “Speed of Sound” flatlines with a chorus that could benefit from Britpop anthemic oomph. “Drive” and “Part” are the kind of three-chord rave-ups that are as simple as they are good, if only because the music is open enough to let Nehra be a front man and not just keep up with the never-say-die chords.
E-mail Hobey Echlin at email@example.com.