The Phantom Tollbooth

Mental Floss
Artist: Wyrick
Label: Rugged Records
Time: 11 tracks/35:57

Mental Floss is the debut album by Travis Wyrick, who singlehandedly wrote, played, recorded, and mixed the whole album. An impressive venture, but trying too hard to imitate several secular bands he unfortunately falls on  his face. It's just way too blatant. Rugged Records boasted Wyrick's superiority to Filter and Prodigy, but this CD falls short of the standard of both, reaching only the level of competent imitation.

"Supernatural" is a near carbon copy of Filter's angst classic "Hey Man Nice Shot," right down to the vocals, the bass line, the screaming, everything. Even the opening part of the chorus is ripped: "Hey man" becomes "a-men," although it sounds so similar I had to read the lyric sheet to be able to tell the difference. The third track, "Shotgun," with its eerie electronic noises, is also very Filter-esque, and suffers from the same lyrical problem:

By the fourth track, "The Comeback," the electronics are totally gone,  replaced by grooving guitars and some Alice in Chains-type vocals. Tracks seven and eight, "Can't Be Saved" and "What Does It Say?", take some ideas from Prodigy, mixing some banging drums and tortured vocals. The last song, "In the Way", is actually pretty good--a mellow, slow-beat combination of whispered vocals with electric and acoustic guitar. This is the one original song on the album; if Wyrick can write more like this he'll be on the right track.

Lyrically, the album is solid, even evangelical in its message.  Just about every song points toward or mentions Jesus. I have heard this CD hyped as a more "Christian" alternative to bands such as Circle of Dust.

While the sound quality and production is excellent, I'd like to see more creativity. Christians should be pushing the music boundaries by creating  new and original music rather than imitating mainstream artists. It won't impress our non-Christian friends and makes it look like Christians are incapable of originality. Even the packaging, with its sonogram pictures of Wyrick's unborn child, has been done before. I can't recommend this CD, simply because of this lack of originality. It is, in essence, a hodgepodge of recent mainstream musical trends, specifically the obvious Filter rip-off. Wyrick needs to work on finding his own sound.

By Joe Rockstroh (9/4/98)