Pretend I'm Human

Orange 9mm

Ng / Artemis Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/16/2021

This album, the final by the brilliant ‘90s post-hardcore band Orange 9mm, is finally being released digitally after going out of print around the turn of the millennium. I snagged it on CD still sealed in 2020 and I was quite surprised by it. After recruiting a new bassist in 1996 and working on an EP entitled Ultraman Vs. Godzilla in 1998, the band began working on new material not long afterward. The material was in the vein of the band’s masterpiece, 1996’s Tragic, but they began to feel. the material was stale. Having been influenced by the likes of Radiohead and electronica, they decided to try anew. What they came up with has been hyped in the press in terms of the reissue to be amazing and inspiring, but what I got was a band spinning their wheels trying to do something new and not doing it very well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Opening track “When You Lie” feels like the band trying to combine electronic elements with their hardcore sound, and it doesn’t work. It feels flat and empty. The amazing bass work that is always one of the band’s biggest strengths is still on prime display, though. The band’s bassist had quit and so guitarist Taylor McLam was recruited to provide bass again, and he does a great job. The songs that still have the band’s trademarks, like “Lifeless,” still sound great but different.

When it all really comes together is on “Touching Skies,” probably the slowest song in the band’s catalog, but it’s so damn good and is an amazing display of the band’s true powers. This is the album’s true masterpiece.

The album’s title track is okay but it doesn’t fully go for the throat like the band is really capable of. Then there’s the almost six minute “Dragons (You Know I Love You)” and the seven minute “Innocence.” Why these tracks are here I couldn’t tell you. The former is basically spoken word and not even like a real song; it’s disappointing to waste such time on something like this. “Innocence” begins with a mellow intro, but then it just dissolves into more mindless spoken word. It really brings the album down in a major way. Why would anyone tell them this was a good idea?

The album’s main single “Alien” was average at best, but didn’t do enough to attract listeners. After that, the album just flounders and never rises above below mediocrity. The album flopped, the label was nonexistent within a year, and by the end of 2000, so was the band. What a disappointing way to close your career. Kids, don’t follow.

Rating: C+

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