October 1998

The Watchmen - Silent Radar
EMI 72438 59031 2 0
Released: 1998
HDCD Encoded

by Bruce Bassett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]"My life is a stereo, how loud does it go?" These are the first words that tentatively escape Daniel Greaves' lips on Silent Radar, as a crescendo builds in the background. The music repeats itself in this fashion for the first two verses, until Sammy Kohn counts out four on his 'hats and the band launches the song into orbit in glorious hard-rockin' style.

"Stereo" is one of those rare songs that has the ability to push a button in my cerebral cortex, unleashing a jubilant stream of state-enhancing hormones. When I first heard the song on the radio, I impulsively rushed out to pick up the disc without any regard to the other music sharing CD residency. In fact, even if "Stereo" were the only good song present, I was still more than willing to pay my $15 to recapture that feeling of elation -- that high. I was like a crackhead, metaphorically speaking of course, who needed my fix and would stop at nothing short of selling my non-vital body parts to get it.

Ironically, if you listen to the lyrics of "Stereo," they are rather melancholy, especially, I imagine, to the audiophiles of the world. It's a paradox to me why a song that compares someone's life to a "cheaply made" stereo and waxes introspectively about being "out of phase" would make me feel so damned good. A card-carrying audiophile I'm not, so maybe I am blissfully unaware of the gravity of the words.

If I may briefly flash back for a moment, I can recall a number of occasions during which I made irrational buying decisions based on the strength of one song. More often than not, the rest of the CD turned out to be full of downers, resulting in a predominantly bad trip. Fortunately, Silent Radar is a veritable junkie's paradise. With a sound something akin to a Tragically Hip Wallflower, The Watchmen are outstanding. A large part of why I am now addicted to them is that no one individual stands out, but together they do.

And, as if I weren't already feeling giddy enough from the 12 mood-manipulating tracks on Silent Radar, I was able to e-mail away for a free four-cut live CD. All of this for $15! God, I love cheap drugs.