Labeled as a garage band of the Swedish variety, The Jan Martens Frustration has done considerably more than is required to transcend the increasingly trendy yet seemingly nondescript genre. Armed with the standard tricks and tools of yore (Pete Townsend power chords, moody chorus effects, shades of psychedelica), the band finds some new and interesting twists that bring to mind everything from Radiohead and The Beatles to The Scorpions (vocalist Jan Martens is occasionally a dead ringer for Klaus Meine).
The Jan Martens Frustration’s self-titled debut is comprised a broad selection of tracks that are less of the gem variety and more of a commodity, thanks to 15 tracks that reveal few, if any, low points. In taking a more global view of its rock predecessors, the quartet extends itself into waters uncharted by the likes of The Strokes et al.
“Dead Weight” showcases everything we loved about The Fab Four’s crossover from über boy band to serious rock artists, while tracks like “Through The Fence” and “Catch As Catch Can” summon the haunting wails of ‘80s modern rock (picture Bono singing atop a hill, arms stretched back like Leonardo DiCaprio on the Titanic). You can even hear Tom Yorke trying to break through in “Reaching Over.” And if you aren’t careful, you’ll find Jan channeling Tool with the standout track “A Few Too Many.”
But make no mistake: The Jan Martens Frustration successfully avoids the pitfalls that so many so-called garage bands find with amazing accuracy and frequency. That is to say, the boys from Sweden tap old school influences without pandering to their iconic nature or going out of their way to romanticize the ‘60s and ‘70s rock eras (to my knowledge, Jan doesn’t have a fashion-designer father with a stake in the band). Best of all, The Jan Martens Frustration doesn’t bind itself to any particular image or ideal that has limited the genre and caused its once-fans some undue indigestion.