The Phantom Tollbooth

Dalek Boy
Artist: Evergreen
Label: UK Indie
Length: 10/33.16

Ali Loaker, frontman for Evergreen, has been making a name for himself on the British Christian music scene for a while now, most recently with the band Infopop. Evergreen were formed from among Infopop's ashes and this CD release has followed promptly.

Citing influences ranging from U2 and delirious? to Nirvana and the Pixies, Evergreen have a fairly diverse range of sounds but stick firmly in the rock arena. The opening track clearly shows the grunge influences, with distorted vocals and a dirty bass sound dominating, but isn't quite as intense as most of that genre. Later on, the sound drifts more towards the U2 influenced area once occupied by stadium rockers The Electric Revival, with epic vocals slipping right in, but sounding a little dated.

Ali Loaker's vocals are certainly versatile; he obviously knows how to use them to best effect and they generally work well. The other instruments mesh well, and while there are no particular standout performances and the arrangements aren't all as tight or innovative as perhaps they might be, thought has been given to this area.

Lyrically, the band describes this as a worship-oriented record. That influence is apparent, but for most listeners this will not be the main interpretation of the lyrics, as they speak more generally about life from a faith-informed perspective. The lyrics have been carefully crafted, and have an approach that is fresh. For those not initiated into the cult sci-fi of Dr. Who, the Daleks were his mortal enemy, an alien race with many cyborg-like characteristics. That knowledge may make it somewhat easier to decipher this extract from the title track:

This album is very obviously a first release. It doesn't go to quite the extreme that some bands take on their first release, showcasing how broad their sound can be, but the songs don't quite have the cohesive feel that I would expect a later release to have as the band continue to sharpen their identity. As a calling card, this will serve the band well, but it will be later releases that really begin to define Evergreen.
James Stewart (4/11/99)