Green Division - Getting By On My Looks
Release Date: Februrary 17, 2006
Record Label: Unsigned
In the eyes of many, I may very well stand as one who could possibly be categorized as being "obsessive compulsive" when it comes to music, and the way I prefer it to sound. But, when a young group of musicians like Ontario, Canada's Green Division, and an album like Getting By On My Looks makes its way into my hands, I can finally deem myself satisfied. What with only living a mere 20 minutes from the band themselves, Green Division are a consummate example of a band I have personally had the opportunity to overlook from the earliest days of their careers, and moreso recognize the groups growth, in all aspects of music, every step of the way. With Getting By On My Looks, the bands first, long-awaited, full-length release, Green Division take the listeners stage with the same, indistinguishable recipe they've been practicing from the beginning, but with a modernistic essence to regenerate their sound.
As a whole, Getting By On My Looks appears to the untrained eye as nothing more than a dazzling collection of ska-inspired, punk-rock anthems, and while the album itself does not fall too far from these results under this judges eye, a deeper look into its contents is anything but unnecessary. For a band that has been performing in front of audiences since my earliest years of musical appreciation, there is a surprisingly low amount contemporary material here to satisfy long-time fans. To be completely honest, the record itself appears to those who familiar with the bands catalogue as nothing more than a greatest hits ensemble (with a handful of select bonus tracks we have yet to hear before) labelled as a brand new release. However, and much to the bands favour, while this fact may slightly retract from the discs lasting appeal, the material present is infectious enough for any fan of the genre to appreciate it a considerable amount no matter how outdated some content may appear.
The albums title track "Getting By On My Looks", which conveniently opens the album, is undoubtedly one of the bands strongest efforts to date. The song itself features a horn section (consisting of saxophonists Aaron Gold and Harlan Guthrie, trumpeter Alex Guthrie, and trombonist Brett Harasym) that feels like it is packed to capacity, which is without question one of the bands most appealing aspects, and a quality that so many acts strive to achieve. It was a wise decision on the bands part to place the aforementioned title track at the forefront of the record, because beyond that, the band doesn't offer much to write home about in terms of new material. But, with all criticisms aside, antique classics including fan-favourites "My Suburban Life", "Open Mind", "Change", and "Her Old Boyfriends" are back to bite the bullet for another round, and the songs themselves are more welcomed than ever.
Yet, being so involved (or at least, in my own mind, I am) in the state of this band, and being the critic that I am, it makes me question what is in store for the future of Green Divsion. After patiently sitting and waiting for years for the album at hand to see the light of day, and with the result that that the material from the past far out-performs the creations these exceptionally talented musicians present to us today, I can't help but be slightly scared and fearful to open my ears, eyes, and mind to the bands next release. While these seven musicians are on top of their game, and undoubtedly entertaining at a level higher than anyone could possibly have expected, when put together the product just can't be labelled as overly captivating, impressive, or stimulating.
But, when it all boils down, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While Green Division certainly are Getting By, it might be in their best interest to challenge themselves both musically and lyrically, as well as advance their sound to a level of unchallenged sublimity, at least before unleashing their second attempt on the world. In the eyes of this one reviewer, there's a hotel room available for improvement, but other opinions may open the door to a luxury suite when stepping into this record. Green Division have certainly been blessed with the ability to shine, but they need to find that spark that will earn them such praise.