The Datsuns: The Datsuns
Oct 26, 2002
THE DATSUNS, The Datsuns (Shock)
What year is it? Where am I? Listening to the Datsuns it’s hard to tell.
For a start, there’s the way vocalist Dolf De Datsun pronounces ‘lady’. He sings it as ‘lay-dare’, but really it’s fact that he’s singing it at all. The word surely belongs to the lexicon of the early 70s, when it defined the male rocker’s vision of woman as both deity and object. Didn’t the Slits come to bury all that before these boys were even born? And hadn’t Sleater-Kinney thrown the final sods onto that coffin?
Then there are the lead breaks. If the Datsun responsible for all the squiddley-diddley guitar solos had come along playing like that during the punk revolution of ‘76, NME would surely have lined him up for shooting alongside Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page.
Funnily, it’s that same British style bible that, in a glowing cover story, proclaimed these loud hairy twenty-somethings from Cambridge, New Zealand “heroes of the new rock revolution”, unprecedented acclaim for a Kiwi band.
At the same time you can see why they love them. They were looking for a band as cute as the White Stripes and as loud as the Queens of the Stone Age and the Datsuns answered the call. And they aren’t just wannabes. In spite of their so-called ‘garage’ credentials they are a slick unit, super-tight and powerful, as you’ll hear in the ten tracks that make up their eponymous debut. They boogie, they blast, they riff hard. And there’s a surprising variety, from the sparse, scratchy “Harmonic Generator” to the horn style riffs of “What Would I Know”.
If it’s arty irony you’re after, you’ll find precious little of it here. Unlike their pals the White Stripes (with whom they have been gigging in both Europe and the US) theirs isn’t a minimalist, geometrically reconstructed rock. Neither intellectuals nor geniuses, the Datsuns aren’t out to redefine the form. They are simply embracing it with gusto, taking all its big dumb cliches and bankrupt blues riffs and reanimating them from the inside out. And when it works they make “she made feel like a motherfucker from hell” sound like a valid, even sane, response to a big dumb world.