Fri 26th May 2006
First impressions of Tarmark are good: the layout is great - the Vegas backing, mixed with cars, fighter jets and napalm explosions - the gorgeous vinyl-style CD, and their label, Gallipoli, who definitely know their shit. The music is sprightly punk-infused garage rock that lightens your mood, and 'All the Fun of the Fair' impresses on all fronts on the first listen or two.
Tarmark seem to take on board influences from the Ramones-style of quirky punk rock ('Head of Breaven' even contains their signature "Hey ho" chant) to Winnebago Deal-ish full-throttle rock'n'roll. As a sugar-rush jerk to the system, it's the right kind of medicine. Songs like 'Make My Day' provide ample fuel to the veins to make you jig a little - even when you're sat a desk being a grouchy reviewer - never mind what it'd do when you're at one of their live performances.
The problem is that it kinda passes you by somewhat. There are thirteen tracks on this album, and too many leave you underwhelmed. A major fault is the over-reliance on simplistic one-liners for the chorus - okay as a one-off, but when repeated throughout the song they become tiresome. Listening to the album after the first few times, nothing really stands out and makes you pay attention.
Tarmark's will and strength elevates the songs, that's for sure - the recordings sound vital even when the songs do not - but it doesn't hold up against a wealth of releases available at the moment. And yet, despite my negativity, 'All the Fun of the Fair' remains an enjoyable experience. Perhaps I'm just not the best man to review this. Fans of garage rock and cheap amphetamines should track down Tarmark, of that I'm confident. Otherwise, check them live, and make your own mind up.