San Jose’s the English Language are in love the year 1967. It almost goes without saying. Yet it’s an important point to make when discussing their new album, This is Science / Rock & Roll because while their self-titled debut is has more than a couple moves taken from the summer of love playbook, their latest release draws more liberally from 1965 until about 1974, cherry picking musical influences along the way. There’s mid ‘70s power-pop (“Zig Zag Drag”), early ‘70s proto-punk (“What’s Wrong With My Baby’s Blood”), mid ‘60s bouncy-pop (“Happy Loving You”) and late ‘60s psychedelic ballads. (“Gold Of Mine”).
The English Language’s debut, like a lot of the lesser-known Beatles-worshiping late 60s bands, is at times downright ridiculous, both in its tripped-out blow-your-mind psychedelic cabaret instrumentation, and the bizarre bad acid trip imagery lyrics. This is Science / Rock & Roll avoids the more over-the-top moments of their debut, and the restraint works well for the trio. “Gold of Mine” is a gorgeous John Lennon-esque tune. “I’m Tired of This World” has all the makings of a weird novelty nonsensical retro psychedelic jam, but they actually turn it into a serious, and dark, song.
There are still a couple of strange quirky songs, with the kind of oddball humor the Who would put in an obscure B-side. “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” is an eerie, peculiar, deliberately-repetitive rock n’ roll song. “Having Wine” is a goofy, theatric song. The album’s title cut, is an early Queen-inspired stadium rock track. But even at their silliest, This is Science / Rock & Roll is a lot more serious than the band’s debut, and it shows off the groups potential a lot better.
The foray into power-pop actually suits the English Language, in part because of the fact that they are just a trio, and sometimes simplicity is just better. The English Language, as much as they are worshipers of old rock have the advantage of being able to look back in time and decide track to track which era of rock ’n’ roll to influence their music. There’s still a lot of late 60s influence here, but the ‘70s influence is a refreshing touch. Maybe next album, they’ll start experimenting with late ‘70s punk rock movement.
The English Language release their second album This is Science / Rock & Roll on Saturday, February 1st at the Blank Club. Tickets are $8. Doors open at 8pm.