Decade of Valentines

CD Cover Solution to the Problem
Independent Cassette

Review by Darren Gawle

Peter Frampton meets Sonic Youth. The Cars as produced by Rob Pollard. Ned's Atomic Dustbin go slacker and take Crosby, Stills and Nash with them. Ever wondered about these scenarios? Nope, me neither, but evidently the guys in the Solution to the Problem have. Witness the seventeen-song tape that is Decade of Valentines, a tape with so much personality you wonder if it would have worked this well if it had been recorded in a proper studio.

Its recording quality being shit in the most delightful way possible, Decade of Valentines has a sonic personality that sadly only pops up once in a while (Bossanova's eponymous debut cassette springs to mind). "Possibly Wrong Ears" pays inevitable homage to Guided by Voices, "Acquisition of Units" goes for the Frampton/Sonic Youth angle with the help of some hilarious analogue keyboard flourishes and "The Oldest One in Here" ends with someone in the band complaining that he doesn't know how the song ends. Extra marks for the "Dad, the new guy got into trouble" chorus of "Sour Conflict," which brings poor old Tibor from The Simpsons to mind.

That there are enough true gems on Decade of Valentines should help you ignore the occasional slide into thrash or slacker-boogie territory. Earthy stuff, but not lowest-common denominator or patronizing -- the Solution to the Problem are a credit to this city.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 11, 1998

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