I know very little about Way To Go Radio other than that they’re from Chicago and that ‘Barriers’ is their debut album, following a brace of singles in the form of ‘It’s Not Enough’ and ‘Dustin’, both of which feature here on this ten-tracker. I suppose by avoiding the standard press pitch, the prejudicial genre-pigeonholing and comparison-drawing, the band ensure a fair hearing if nothing else.
The first minute or so throws up a weird concoctions of scratchy post-punk guitars, some off-kilter prog and pompous indie-pop. I can’t decide if it’s preposterously misguided or absolute genius, but it’s enough to compel me to stuck around for more.
These first impressions are a fair summary of the album as a whole: ‘Barriers’ is nothing if not eclectic.
‘Dose of Truth’ s Bowie as filtered through Suede, and ‘Dustin’ is something I can’t quite put my finger on, and ‘It’s not Enough’ switches between glam and alt-rock and even cock-rock, somehow spinning ‘Little Kix’-era Mansun, Electric Six and ‘Everything Must Go’ era Manics in a blender, and elsewhere, there’s more Bowie and a dash of Queen – which is a shade offputting, as the flamboyant streak is at odds with the quite succinct and savvy pop stylings of the songwriting.
‘Barriers’ feels like so much of an identity crisis that it forges its own identity, meaning that it’s often an overwhelming mess. But then the same is true of Mansun’s most ‘Six’, and the overly busy flamboyance of The Associates’ ‘Sulk’, both of which come to mind in the midst of this audacious whirlpool of ideas. The end result is likely Marmite, but that’s ok: better to elicit a strong reaction and build a passionate fanbase than a shrug and a passing interest, and ‘Barriers’ is deftly executed and bursting with hooks.