They got the passion. They got the skill. They definitely got the energy. But what The High Speed Scene clearly lacks in their first full-length release is the creativity to turn a relatively generic indie pop-punk sound into something unique. Redemption is found in a few songs, such as the Hot Hot Heat-inspired "In the Know," as well as in the band's anti-authority sentiment. Despite an obvious appreciation for other influences like The Kinks and The Beatles, The High Speed Scene is predictable, relying on repetitive melody hooks rather than musical ingenuity for their typical, inoffensive sound.
If the Jessica Fletchers' Less Sophistication is any kind of indication, Norwegians can really wail on the ol' harpsichord synthesizer. Adding to this undeniably catchy bass combination and the occasional male-female vocal duet, the Jessica Fletchers create a pop/new-wave musical hybrid that is still reminiscent of '60s style harmonizing. Their unique sound far surpasses, creatively if not technically, that of recent touring buddies The Hives. Eleven tracks (produced under the watchful eyes and ears of Modest Mouse's Steve Wold) quickly run through a variety of influences ranging from The B-52's to Primal Scream, resulting in an upbeat and personalized style.
Five seconds into the first song on Built by Blood, it becomes painfully clear that Bleed the Dream needs to be reminded that, yeah, AFI already exists, and, no, they sure as hell don't need a cover band. Each song on the album bears striking resemblance to the one before (and after) it: a mess of angsty lyrics and guitars made listenable only by drummer Scott Gottlieb's beautifully-timed beats and fills. They might have scored a spot on Warped Tour, but that does not mean Bleed the Dream as a band brings anything new or exciting to alternative rock.