Sudden Death of Stars/Beat Mark // What is Winter Good For?/Christmas Blossom
Ample Play Records
Recommended Track: Christmas Blossom
Christmas singles are a thing in the UK and here is London-based Ample Play Records with a festive offering of their own: a holiday-edition split single from Sudden Death of Stars and Beat Mark, two French bands that have little in common other than their nationality and the fact that they each have contributed pretty slight efforts to this bit o’ holiday fluff.
Beat Mark do the best with “Christmas Blossom”, a very faithful rehashing of British indie pop that succeeds entirely on the strength of a really sweet instrumental bridge near the end of the song, as do a lot of Beat Mark songs. The same cannot be said for Sudden Death of Stars who blow it on “What is Winter Good for?”, a morosely named and sung tune that’s inexplicably tropical and yet accented with sleigh bells and church bells (for that Christmas vibe, I guess.) There’s so much going on here that it barely qualifies as a song, even by the low standards of Christmas singles. Perhaps if they’d embraced the true tackiness of the holiday song rather than trying to score cool points, things would’ve turned out differently. But they didn’t.
Ultimately the problem with this split is not necessarily that the songs themselves are puffy, which is always to be expected with Christmas singles. It’s more basic than that. Though Beat Mark and SDOS are playing different types of rock music, both sides of this split do share one unfortunate trait: they’re imitative to a fault, which wouldn’t be so frustrating if not for the fact that lot of European shit tends to be really throwback-y and overly loyal to their source material. But since it’s Christmas and since despite my gripes I actually do like Beat Mark (and the Vaselines) and “Christmas Blossom” is a decent representation of the band’s catalogue, I give this release 1.8 pies and three cheers for new LPs and new sounds from the Continent in 2014.