Apparently, no one told Between the Buried and Me frontman Tommy Rogers that a passable Roger Waters impression is not a strong enough base for an album. Pulse, his second solo record, released under the name Thomas Giles, brings to mind a scene from the Noah Baumbach film The Squid and the Whale. The one where Jesse Eisenberg’s character wins over the crowd at the school talent show with his take on Pink Floyd’s “Hey You.” He claims to have written the song himself, but is eventually outed. He excuses his plagiarism by saying, “I felt like I could have written it, so the fact that it was already written was just a technicality.”
In the same way, it doesn’t seem that Rogers feels any shame for draping himself in his influences. Between the Buried and Me are a furiously creative metal outlet who combine the influences of all their members. It’s an eclectic mix, and that is something special in the metal scene these days. But alone, Rogers isn’t delivering anything special.
His Pink Floyd imitations combined with bad drum-machine breaks, stuttering synth lines, and a few nods to Mike Patton and Freddie Mercury, add up to little more than a self-indulgent mix tape. And yet for something that seems like a vanity project, there is actually very little grandeur or experimentation.
Songs like “Sleep Shake” and “Hypoxia” find Rogers tripping over himself to complicate simple ballads with dumb industrial breaks. This passes as creative in the metal world, despite amateurish lyrics and a limited vocal range, because Rogers is normally screaming his guts out. So this album somehow translates into maturity.
“Scared,” an acoustic ballad with Rogers doing his best Thom Yorke/Chris Martin impression, is the easiest to swallow. It sounds like something off Radiohead’s The Bends album (good), but features lyrics that could be taken straight from Hail to the Thief (bad). On “Medic,” Rogers abandons the acoustic pretense and goes back to his usual uber-processed cookie-monster scream, backed by shredding guitars, and somehow it just feels much, much more natural.
If loving Pink Floyd and being able to emulate their spaced-out vocals and lyrics were criteria enough to release an album, every college kid with a shitty acoustic guitar and dreads would be pimping their new slow-jam prog release. But most people are smart enough to realize they can’t get away with ripping off just one band—even Modest Mouse had to add the Pixies to their repertoire to gain mainstream appeal.