30 Jan 2009 // A review by lukefitzmaurice
The Datsuns always seemed like a high school band to me. True, originally they were, but to me they were always reminiscent of a group of kids desperately trying to prove themselves as professionals. As musicians, they always had the talent, and there was never a lack of energy or enthusiasm, but nevertheless, in my mind at least, they never really shook the image of an over-excited garage band. Maybe it was the occasionally strained vocals, or the at times over the top drumming or guitar playing, but there always seemed to be a little something missing.
Well whatever that something was, The Datsuns seemed to find it for Headstunts. Gone are all traces of a band desperately trying to realise dreams of fame and fortune, leaving only a group truly worthy of legend status in the kiwi rock scene. Their fourth studio album is simply fantastic, fulfilling, if not exceeding, all the potential they had in their early days.
The album starts characteristically fast-paced, and the opening track Human Error, is in my opinion one of the best songs on the album. It, along with a few other tracks such as So Long and Yeah Yeah Just Another Mistake, retains the high energy and enthusiasm that Datsuns fans know and love, but the difference is the band sound tighter and much better as a group then they have on previous recordings. But what makes this record special is the obvious, and successful, attempt by The Datsuns at producing a few songs that are a little different from the ones that featured on their first three albums. For example, both Eye of the Needle and Somebody Better are considerably longer than any of the other tracks on the album, both feature long instrumentals, and both are an impressive attempt at breaking free from the 3 minute ‘made for commercial radio’ rock anthems that made them popular. The second track, Hey Paranoid People (What’s in Your Head?), also reminded me a lot of the kind of sound fellow kiwis The Mint Chicks have become known for, which can only be a good thing.
I recently read a review of the Big Day Out that noted the absence of iconic kiwi rockers Shihad, one of only a few times the band hadn’t made an appearance at the festival. The reviewer wondered whether, especially considering the quality of their new material, The Datsuns may be the band to step into the rather large boots that Shihad will leave when their inevitable retirement rolls around. Lets face it, no matter how good Jon Toogood gets at imitating Keith Richards, Shihad will not be around forever, and in The Datsuns, the New Zealand public may have found themselves a new iconic rock band to bang their heads to in pubs and living rooms around the country. If Headstunts is anything to go by, perhaps those dreams of fame and fortune are not so far away after all.