The dark dance-punk movement of this decade is officially no longer a phenomenon, but an established operation. The world’s used to it now, so for a band to succeed in it, it takes less of impact to break through than it did a few years ago. As more bands mix their stark guitars with semi-disco rhythms in a New Wave cocktail, the overall effect diminishes, and all the bright ideas that started the trend get dimmed down. The Cinematics are relatively late to this movement and manage to only add a little gas to the tank, but they at least help keep the engine running.
Their debut, A Strange Education, is a full-bodied glass of dance-punk with a somewhat disappointing amount of taste. A few hooks and interesting aftertaste keep you sipping, but an essential lack of taste keeps you from gulping it down. One of the more compelling tracks is a cover of Beck’s "Sunday Sun". The opening track, "Race To The City" has a compelling beat and riff combination, but doesn’t go beyond the club-friendly sound. The title track gallops along and occasionaly thunders, but generally remains flat. Unfortunately, there’s a certain lack of convincing passion behind the songs that were built on pre-emo drama and a lot of sounds on the album recall predecessors too closely.
The problem with A Strange Education is not that it’s lacking any skill or relevance, it’s simply that their take on the genre isn’t as compelling as others. Their deep, theatrical vocals and quick guitars sound fine on the dancey beat, but there’s no great X-factor beyond that. It’s as if they’ve loved what they’ve heard and are talented enough to contribute to the greater sound, but aren’t necessarily fueled by great ideas, just a desire to be included. At least they’ll get laid for it.