Vancouver’s Elizabeth aren’t exactly breaking new ground with their latest LP, Hazards, Horrors and Liabilities. Opting to articulate an ‘80s throwback dance rock disturbance, Elizabeth seems set on targeting mass appeal by honing in on a sound that frisks the familiar.
In fact, I’ll wager the Clash provided the trim for much of the album’s kick, and the occasional miscue. The ska creases in “P.O.U.M.,” for instance, could be a B-side to the Clash’s 1980 single “Bankrobber,” right down to vocalist Reggie Gill doing his best Mick Jones impersonation. Likewise, “Death of Plato” summons the majesty of Mick and the driving intensity he’s famous for, along with obliging angular riffs that fill out the post-punk ordinance nicely. For the record, there is nothing wrong with paying homage to such influences; what Elizabeth is doing is a far cry from karaoke.
While blazing down an already well-worn trail, it isn’t that Elizabeth lacks ambition or any kind of oomph. Fans of the snide, stylish and brash new wave revival are going to enjoy this. If you’ve got a love for the Cure, the Strokes or Franz Ferdinand, you’ll find fire and frenzy in the group’s well-played, passionate pleas.
Produced by Eric Mosher (Castle Grey Skull, Lillix), Hazards, Horrors and Liabilities certainly feels urgent and au courant, thanks, at least partially, to Paul Gill’s ardent and outstanding drumming and Rory O’Sullivan’s resonant Simon Gallup-inspired bass lines. There is a clean sheen to the album and it sounds ready for populist radio play; Elizabeth’s skilled players seem poised for greater recognition.
Vancouver has bred a lot of bands over the years, some great, some regrettable, and for now Elizabeth may seem little more than a blip on your transient musical radar. For me this album is a little too vanilla, a little too workaday, and when it’s over it falls away like confetti. But, I said the same thing about Mother Mother, too.