Every time I review a so-called straight-up rock and roll album that I enjoyed during my first couple listens, I find myself gushing about the pure pleasure of unapologetically loud, gritty rock. Then I put the album away only to ignore or forget about it for months, perhaps years on end. One day I inevitably discover the truth – turns out it was a little boring, far from innovative, and indeed nothing special.
Upon listening to the first few tracks of the Datsuns’ Outta Sight/Outta Mind, produced by John Paul Jones, I began to see the whole cycle taking shape again. But not this time. Sorry Datsuns, you’ll mark the end of my critical blindspot for you and your kind. Hope you weren’t counting on another pandering, clichéd review praising you for revisiting “the way rock and roll is supposed to be.”
Such a broad, generic description shouldn’t be the backbone of any critical review, and the Datsuns make it clear why: it refers to a very limited spectrum of the immense “rock and roll” spectrum. The Datsuns take no chances and no steps forward throughout the entirety of this record, instead being content to mimic their heroes. Inspired by the same nascent age of garage rock, at least the Hives repackage it with finesse and style.
Not only does Outta Sight/Outta Mind find the Datsuns tossing about in a very small little world, but it also fails to feature songwriting of any merit. Sure, there are some wicked solos, but they’re hardly of the mind-melting variety. A nice riff is heard now and then, but few are put to any good use. All told, the Datsuns don’t succeed in doing much more than rocking. That might suffice for a pre-teen just discovering classic rock, and would hopefully send them back in time to the likes of AC/DC, the Sonics and the MC5. But for anyone who has moved beyond that precious stage, this album assures us that while their forefathers rocked our asses, the Datsuns are a second-rate blast from the past.