There are many reasons to envy the deaf: returning from Spring Break, looking forward to a precious few hours of sleep in the comfort of the airliner and hearing that newborn child in the next row. That teacher in third grade that used to draw class attention by scratching her nails across the board. The “sound-bite” kid mind-numbingly arguing politics through things he’s heard from P. Diddy and an assortment of local news stations. Dirty Vegas’s newest release on EMI Records, One, is all of these things and more … or less.
Paul Harris (DJ/producer), Ben Harris (DJ/Musician) and Steve Smith (singer) came together in 2001 intending to redefine the European dance scene. Their first single, “Days Go By,” a barn-busting dance-electronica implosion, found relative success, topping the charts in England. As luck would have it, Mitsubishi imported the song to America for use in its Eclipse commercial, allowing Vegas to pawn off roughly 700,000 copies of their self-titled debut and earning them an invitation to play at Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson’s wedding. With all of this success, the boys apparently decided that they ought to try and be real musicians. Donning some guitars and tackling the hard-hitting issues like walking home and talking to a girlfriend, Vegas gave birth to One.
The album is a true amalgamation of awful, trying to be a bit of everything and ending up as nothing. The dance-pop elements fail with weak hooks and mislayered beats. The bland electronica overtures even pale in comparison to the meager work on their previous album. Production seems to have been the least of Vegas’s concern, the interplay between beats and instrumentation seems off-balance while sound levels leave the listener disoriented and tired. Awkward synth-rock (“Human Love”) and the painful acoustic crooning of Steve Smith (“Closer”) sound like Fountains of Wayne with less range and a self-serious attitude.
It is through this voice that the one steadfast element of the album, the God-awful lyrics, is delivered. Sounding as if they were made up on the spot, Smith delivers such profound thoughts as: “So here we are, we’ve come this far, it’s never been so good / Nothing ever lasts forever so maybe now we should / Try and hold on to what we’ve got / ’Cause the only thing worth living for is love.”
There really isn’t anything else to say about One. The boys really should have stuck to that lovable dance-lite that they’re renowned for. Naming the release One might be a little misleading, as Dirty Vegas gives the audience so many definitive reasons to envy the deaf.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.