London’s Gay Dad released their 1999 debut, Leisure Noise, a little late for the Oasis- and Blur-led British invasion of the ’90s. But with their randy name, a nifty set of campy, glam-inspired tunes, and major endorsements from the usual English music weeklies, the group did make a splash back home. This follow-up features big, boisterous production values — it’s as if the band, in spite of their name, wanted to send a message to kids in the US: "We’re loud! We’re proud! Get used to it!"
Yet what this beautifully if somewhat excessively crafted album sounds like is various parts of frontman Cliff Jones’s record collection. And as a former rock scribe for the Face and Mojo, he’s got a vast collection to draw on. Transmission evokes innumerable sonic spirits, from classics like Bowie and T. Rex to ’90s noisemakers like My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. to new-breed Brit-poppers like Oasis and Elastica. There are even sonic allusions to Amerindie grrrl rockers Sleater-Kinney and to big-beat dance pioneers the Chemical Brothers. So Gay Dad come off more like archivists — or trainspotters, to borrow an appropriate idiom from overseas — than like a cohesive pop band. And though there are moments of fleeting bliss, the disc lacks cohesion and a distinct identity.