Walking In The Streets (2008)
Mad Staring Eyes
Guitarist, lead singer,
songwriter Alex Simler
Back in the aughties they executed a gut-punching, semi-New Wave, big city sound. The core members are from North London, which is what Americans would call “The North Side,” “North End,” or possibly “Uptown,” referring to their own cities. So that’s from whence Mad Staring Eyes’ first major overtones came: slightly glamorous urbanity toned down by grunginess; a decade-appropriate anger; sharp retorts by the lead singer to the lead singer, and a general air of delightful chaos.
All those descriptives apply to “Walking In The Streets.”
Since then they have become a – brace yourself - British Americana Folk Rock band. It may sell in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, but not so much in Arkansas, or the blue-blood street of Boston. The premier (North) American grand-daddy roots group, The Band, can feel secure in their place on Olympus.
“Walking In The Streets,” though screams and grinds from the get-go, a harsh, jarring Punk rhythm guitar played by Alex Simler touching off the fuse. Power drumming by Oli Darley and a hard-rubber bass line from Dan Bloom keep it jumping, pogo-ing, trampolining.
“Walking InThe Streets”
Some vaguely disturbing lyrics – edgy but not too dangerous – curl around the hard-driving music.
And we’re walking through the street at night
Keep moving, keep moving
And the sun is gonna shine so bright
Until then, until then
We’ll be running through the streets
And howling at the moon
Mad Staring’s drummer Oli Darley
Something has happened? Is about to happened? Might happen?
There is a nod of the nighttime head to the 2000s’ fanciful revival of werewolves and vampires on television and in the movies.
The music between the first verse and the chorus breaks into a very well-crafted, hooky release, calling up memories of Nick Lowe, Graham Parker and even Elvis Costello, although Mad Staring Eyes steers away from pure pop on “Walking In The Streets.”
The album was recorded at Ray Davies’ of The Kinks “Konk” studio in North London and the influence of the early proto-Punk brotherly-hate group shines through on Bored of Looking Cool.
Additionally, there is a good dose of The Cure, a liberal sprinkling of The Clash and a few other British Isle bands, most obviously U2.
The band was lucky enough – or cursed – by having the song picked up for the Manhattan private prep school TV soap-sudser, Gossip Girl. Whether the instant rise to fame or some sort of repugnance at being part of the soundtrack to the show that won the Emmy for “Most Misrepresentative Series Of An Entire Generation,” it was shortly thereafter that Mad Staring Eyes hit the wood, straw, and old barn circuit with their folksy sound.
Too bad they lost the groove they found on the fabulous 2008 album Bored Of Looking Cool. They might have become a timeless Rock band instead of merely producing a handful of timeless songs like “Walking In The Streets.”
- Trust the critics? Here’s a blurb about their American roots release Talking To The Operator: “Mad Staring Eyes are an Avant-Country family band akin to The Carter Family but with London accents and a contemporary edge.”