The Streets on Fire Show Promise But Don't Quite Set World Aflame

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 1, 2010 8:20PM

07012010_streetsonfirejongraef.jpg
Photo via The Streets on Fire Press Page.
As far as album titles go, This is Fancy must be The Streets on Fire’s idea of a joke. After all, one listen of the Chicago group’s full-length debut reveals that their brand of new-wave and post-punk inspired rock -- featuring the requisite buzzy guitars, slinky basslines, double-time drum beats and crooning, yet still excitable vocal work -- is as straightforward as it gets. There aren’t any alternate time signatures or digressions into free jazz that might suggest any kind of experimental bent. And yet, the quartet lay down a stronger, if not exactly mind-blowing, foundation of tunes than a similar-sounding band, The Horrors, did on their debut.

Of course, being merely satisfactory is not exactly a achievement worth bragging about, and only time will reveal whether or not The Streets on Fire will make the quantum leap forward on any subsequent releases that The Horrors did with their second album, Primary Colours. For the moment, though, This Is Fancy is sufficient enough for head-bobs and toe-taps--especially during Fancy’s quickly-paced first half, where songs like “No One’s Fucking To The Radio” (because they’d rather bump uglies to playlists?) provide ample fuel for the aforementioned listener reactions.

But Fancy is only rarely transcendent, which is disappointing because its second half clearly shows the band taking chances, even if not everything works. While “Color Stereo” rides its “Bullet The Blue Sky”-inspired drum-beat to gloriously hypnotic space-rock heights, “Hard to Find” and “Fancy” putter along with offbeat guitar-work to no discernible destination. But even with their missteps, it’s still encouraging to hear The Streets on Fire stretch out beyond comfort zones, even if, based on most of the work on Fancy, they’re the ones who clearly designed them.

*MP3: The Streets on Fire - "No One's Fucking To The Radio"

The Streets on Fire plays with Big Science, Blah Blah Blah and John Rambo and the Vietnam Wars. Friday, July 2, at Double Door, 1572 North Milwaukee, 9 p.m., $10, 21+