MALTA: Minutes of a Lifetime - Airport Impressions
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Indie rock that musically harks back to grunge and classic rock, there is much to enjoy in this well-made album
Though I adore rock music more than any other genre, I have always been slightly sniffy towards the indie rock music of the early 2000s’, mainly because I always felt that, for the most part, they were just so blown away by the Strokes debut album Is This It that they wanted to be exactly like that (and to be fair, that album is an absolutely astonishing statement of a fiery talent that hasn’t quite been equalled since its release in 2001, so I can understand the impulse to try and recreate it). Thus, while many indie rockers of that time are very accomplished, it felt like they weren’t the genuine article, like they were imitating something, and to my view rock always has to feel authentic for it to work. In any given rock band, the band members may not actually be a bunch of disaffected malcontents airing their grievances at the world, but it should certainly feel that way. With this in mind, let’s consider Airport Impressions, and their 2010 album Minutes of a Lifetime, one of Malta’s most successful musical exports, and it’s easy to understand why. Minutes of a Lifetime is eminently enjoyable and listenable, with a pop punk edge to their indie rock that is reminiscent of The Killers and the Kings of Leon. And yet, they haven’t quite outgrown the large shadow that the Strokes have cast over the genre.
“This is still an album that’s worth your time, and I would argue there’s not a single song that’s bad, and that consistency is to be admired.”
However, there is much to enjoy in this album. Their style is, to my ears, pitched as a nice midpoint between the harsh edges of the Strokes and the more commercial-sounding Killers. They have an ear for a catchy melody and smooth instrumentation, but the harshness and aggression is also there when needed. Furthermore, the lead singer Errol Sammut has a rough and powerful voice, akin to leonine roar that suits the rambunctious musical style. Occasionally reminding me of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, at other moments he seems more like Julian Casablancas when he sings in a more hushed register, but always fitting the needs of the song. Those two extremes might seem like they could jar, but in fact they work together nicely. The music is riff-focused, and considering their guitarist lists Led Zeppelin as an influence, this is not a surprise. The guitar work is generally great on this album, harking back to that 1970s’ style, while remaining a modern edge. Walk With Me is a good example of their mix of styles, as it has a catchy chorus, powerful, crunchy guitars, that are reminiscent of classic rock as well as indie rock and vocals that are loud and powerful for the most part, as well as showing off a softer side. There is also some variety in genres. The Rabbi’s Call is a lovely palate cleanser of a song, and the only one that is an acoustic ballad as opposed to a full out rock song, and it’s really beautiful, and a great way to wind down as we reach the end of the album.
On the whole, the album is very competent, very enjoyable, and full of good songs. I think where it falls slightly short is in the fact that there aren’t any great or outstanding songs, and all their influences are a bit apparent. The Strokes, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, The Killers… they’re all worn on their sleeve, and though it comes together in a sonorous melting pot of rock, I have been able to pick out things that come from other places rather than just take them as a band who have internalised those influences so thoroughly, you don’t even think about what it reminds you of. Being Maltese, this could have been an opportunity to combine some elements of Maltese music into rock, and see how that could have shaped their indie rock sound. No matter. Not every album needs to be an experimental effort. This is still an album that’s worth your time, and I would argue there’s not a single song that’s bad, and that consistency is to be admired. If you like any of those bands mentioned, there’s definitely something in this album for you.