Unknown Component is entirely the work of Ames-based Keith Lynch. At the end of the day, I don’t know if the things Lynch has to say as Unknown Component are vital or important, but the ways in which he says them are often beautiful — sometimes weird — and occasionally great. Opening track “Dimensional Regression” is really Unknown Component’s whole ethos in microcosm: Lynch is equally adept in his guitar and synth work, his vocals are graded C+ but unobtrusive, and the overall effect is dreamy, sexy and satisfying. The entire album has a Mazzy Star, “let’s roll on E and watch The Crow” kind of vibe to it that people with a certain personal history will find highly appealing, but virtually everyone will be able to find something to like here if they look hard enough.
If Catfish & The Bottlemen had any balls whatsoever, they would be a punk band. If you listen to the lyrics you get the distinct impression that it is the direction they are looking in, but the band lacks the fortitude to actually walk that particular walk. Instead “The Balcony” delivers a milquetoast product, high on early-2000s nostalgia but low on any kind of genuine artistry. Everything about the album feels poorly stitched. There are the instrumentals, which feel light and fairly adept, but then they are combined with these unsubtle, inelegant, angry lyrics. (Well, angst-ish lyrics. Anger would require more conviction.) They feel like they belong in 2002, but in ’02, these lyrics would have been laughed out of the club. In the end, “The Balcony” is a waste: wasted talent, wasted effort and, on the listener’s end, wasted time.