Most music is not at all original; it's an observation that is common knowledge to any music fan. But it's only after hearing certain records that you realize that most music is simply recycling "the classics," and that most bands don't have the talent, knowledge, or simply the gut to make something startling. An example of such a record could be All Years Leaving by The (seemingly Noel-Gallagher-endorsed) Stands. There's no doubt about the craftsmanship and good intentions of these four young British lads, but the final product just doesn't stick out from the masses.
Let's start with the music: the typical mix of '60s folk and rock, which British bands like The Trills, The Coral, and the Turin Brakes have rediscovered, is a prominent force on All Years Leaving. The Stands are mimicking that sound with good result, sounding like something that late-'60s bands such as The Byrds would have recorded if they had been kept in cryonic state for forty years. Then there are the lyrics; lead singer/songwriter Howie Payne writes simple and understandable lines. That's fine, but his songs don't have that same unmistakable, in-your-face power as his examples. What made those "'60s legends" legendary is the genius of how they could compress an intricate feeling or story into a few lines, or a melody with utter simplicity.
Now, it's not very fair of me to compare the debut record from these guys with the best works of the Byrds, Beatles, or Beach Boys, but that is about the only comparison that is valid, because The Stands don't leave the roads paved by those bands. Again, there is nothing wrong with recycling an old theme, but it would just seem to make sense to add, subtract, or change things to make the theme more interesting. There are enough examples of bands that did exactly that (examples like Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle & Sebastian spring to mind) and made the best records of the '90s. Unfortunately, The Stands seem to be one of many in the abundant pond of bands with unimaginative music.
1. I've Waited So Long
2. All Years Leaving
3. Outside Your Door
4. When This River Rolls Over You
5. It's Only Everything
6. Always Is The Same / Shine On
7. Here She Comes Again
8. The Big Parade
9. The Love You Give
10. I Need You
11. Some Weekend Night
12. The Way She Does