STREEM Floodmark (Roadrunner)

When Roadrunner (the label that brought you, if not me, the likes of Coal Chamber, Karma To Burn, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Sepultura) send their A&R people outside the sphere of all that is weighty and ferrous, they’ve not been unknown to, well, fail miserably, to put it mildly. They seem to work on the principle that the kids want more of what they’ve got already. Hence albums by Kong (essentially Trans Am’s "Surrender To The Night" six months after Trans Am did it) and Junkie XL (a Podgy/Chemicals fusion from the planet Porridge). So it is that the debut album from girl/boy trio Streem is also the new Garbage album...or at least sounds like it was cloned, Dolly the sheep-like, from that band’s 1995 debut.

So, you get angelic vocals courtesy of one Katie Helsby, a pseudo-metal racket played and programmed by Ian Palmer and Jon Sutch and cred-enhancing Fear Factory and Nine Inch Nails samples. There’s a cover of the theme from "Moonraker", surprise surprise, and lots of blunt track titles like "Slide", "Melter", "Static" and "Indigo" that are probably intended to make you think that there’s something a mean and moody intelligence at work here. The lyrics are standard angst-rock stuff, the fact that the chorus to "Nothing New" contains the line "I’ll redefine you" (right on the cutting edge of the goth/mathematics interface, that) probably tells you about as much as you need to know.

But, and it’s a big but, for all the cynical, calculated, assembled vibe that this album gives off (I’m not saying that it was cynically calculated and assembled, it just seems that way to me) I actually find "Floodmark" quite enjoyable, probably because I like Garbage, although to be fair Streem peddle a slightly frostier Garbage than Garbage do, maybe Garbage with a touch of Curve might be nearer the mark. There’s the odd Portishead element too, chiefly in the occasional outbreak of scratching (sounds like a skin condition!) and vinyl surface noise. And it’s genuinely refreshing these days to receive an album that clocks in at under forty minutes. (I probably wouldn’t be saying that if I’d paid for it, though!)