Published October 7, 2005
Roland Hartwell is a violinist for the Icelandic symphony orchestra and the frontman of Cynic Guru. As their debut single demonstrates, Hartwell has an impressive vocal range, and a great ear for pop—he seems to blend later Beatle melodies with Depeche Mode, but not in a derivative way. The great surprise for us was that the breaks this band takes to feature the violin are often awkward—Guru get a good groove going without fully using their musicianship, and then seem to realize that they need to jam. While vocals are sung very well, the lyrics themselves don’t hold up. I won’t quote from Dick, or Belly or Scab, as that would be mean-spirited. Even listening closely to Drugs, the first single, we are told “something went wrong”—what can go wrong with bad drugs? “They say he jumped out of the window.”
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