Scapegoat Wax is a band, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to Swax. Every instrument sounds like it was generated by a computer. It isn’t a horrible album but it suffers from the same problem that destroys most music released today: the slickness and perfectionism of contemporary recording techniques. When you digitally “correct” every mistake, there’s no room for the soul to poke through. Marty James and his Scapegoat Wax have been compared to Beck, but I don’t hear it. More like Everlast or Uncle Kracker.
A lot of this album sounds like the same weak, overprocessed r&b that you hear on ClearChannel’s “urban” stations. Not sure if that’s what they’re going for, but maybe they’ll give Jamiroquai a run for their money. “Lost Cause” has a pump-your-fist rock guitar chorus but is otherwise unmemorable. “Crawlin'” and “Space to Share” are puss-hop ballads where a little pitch-shifting vocoder action (a la Cher) would fit in perfectly.
“Bloodsweet” has a nice little shuffle but would sound a shitload better if it were played on natural instruments. It’s got a terrible sounding synth line that would work perfectly if it was banged out on a cheap guitar through a dirty old fuzz box. On “Eardrum” we hear Marty affect his best Eminem impression, but who the hell are the Suspects? They rap like MC Ren for Christ’s sake.
The best moments come toward the end of the album. “Perfect Silence” has a Steve Miller groove that might’ve sounded all right performed by Madonna on her Music album. Seriously. “Almost Fine” lays out Swax‘s rawest emotions as Marty tells the story behind his disallusion with Grand Royal Records, which infamously went out of business at the dawn of the release of 2001’s Okeeblow. Sad but true. And it apparently stills stings:
My label president said I was fat
And he made me lose forty pounds
It didn’t make a difference anyway
He ran the label in the ground
Wow! Mike D acting like a 15-year-old actress’ agent. What a dick! Unfortunately, that’s the most exciting and interesting moment on this album.