The Aviators + The Stations
Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
The Stations are a fresh-faced young bunch, all skinny polo-shirts and cheery grins. They’ve got confidence. They’ve got good instruments. They have a backdrop. What they don’t have is any killer hooks. Well, to be fair, they *do* have hooks...but they all belong to one of a selection of classic British guitar acts spanning the era from the 60s to the 90s. Their songs are well structured and performed with an enviable fortitude. But like a lot of young bands, they haven’t quite made it out of the shadows of their influences. It’s all a little too obvious – they would benefit from a firm sound of their own, and from stretching themselves a little further. The Aviators also suffer somewhat from sounding like a gamut of other bands at the expense of sounding like themselves. There’s no finding fault with their musical skills. The singer in particular has a stunning voice with a matching stage presence. The vocal harmonies would have Neil Finn muttering into his beer. The musicianship of the whole band is tight and polished. But the songs are a huge smear of Britpop clichés, focusing on the slow-paced end of that now-defunct scene. Everything from the lead licks to the drum fills sends you right back to the late 90s. Something extra is needed, a genuine sense of thrill to lift the material up from its pedestrian feel. Ten years ago, they would have been contenders. Today they sound like a brilliant tribute to a dead movement.