So how does all this work out for 2nd Place Driver? The first chance to hear the results of this new incarnation of the band is called "Big Mess" and contains 5 songs. As I mentioned earlier, Bart Dietvorst still maintains the creative control over the songwriting but the sound of the band is obviously influenced by the other band members and a female vocalist will automatically change a thing or two compared to the Bowie-esque vocal sound of Rias Baarda we were used to.
Right from the get go we can hear that the band still makes energy-driven, melodic rock music with, at times, a hint of eletrorock. Big Mess is very straight forward and its strength lies in the uptempo pace. Visser's vocals are a surprisingly good fit for the band though you'd hope she could bring a little more edge to it in the remainder of the record. This track will make for a successful live song but I wouldn't hold my breath when it comes to radio success.
Barricade is a safe song. Classic build up but never really comes out of its shell. Visser's vocals are powerful but lack edginess. The guitar arrangement is strong but can't drive home the song on its own. When 2nd Place Driver picks up the pace and utilizes their energy they are at their best, which is why they were always such a great live act. That strength remains and Please, along with the opening track, are good examples of songs that work really well within that construct. Also, Visser shows a tiny bit more edge in her vocals on this track. At times she has to work hard to keep up with the song which creates a little grit. I like it.
Scream is a cool song and Visser does a good job. The bluesy roots in this song play to her strengths. She grew up singing country, folk and blues and when you listen to this song you realize she is used to varying in tone and intensity as is used in these rootsy genres. Because of this ability and the impeccable timing of the instrumentals, Scream is probably the strongest track on the record. The melodic Through To You is a typical 2nd Place Driver song that could've easily appeared on one of their earlier releases. The infusing of electronic rock in a fast paced setting is what they've become known for. As a matter of fact, it is an older song that the band used to play when Baarda was still their lead singer. The song hasn't changed much, though I prefer the older version as it came off more cohesive and intense (primarily because of the vocals). Compare here.