Academic plagiarism is something that can land students in some considerable amount of hot water. You ‘accidently’ forget to attribute someone else’s ideas, words or findings and before you know it you’re up against an academic firing squad. Musical plagiarism however is something of a murky area. Sure, plenty of court cases have centred on the rip off of the odd hook or the odd illegal sample, but on the whole, elements such as vocals and general sound aren’t something that can’t be taken to court and tried for crimes against music...unfortunately. You also can’t footnote music and indicate from which song or band parts have been taken: for the genre defying band it would be impossible, for others it would just be an embarrassing. In any case, the latter would cause considerable problems for Buffalo 77.
Opener ‘Won’t Forget’ immediately smacks of Keane: musically; lyrically and vocally. A derivative intro such as this seems to be ill-placed at the beginning of a debut and despite being only over three minutes, it seems a drawn out and protracted affair. With a red pen at the ready and vocals and music heavily circled, this does not bode too well.
The comparisons made on the first track continue for the rest of the album. Admittedly they show range, but that range is only in regards to vocalist James Leighton’s ability to sound like a plethora of other singers. A vocal chameleon; he shifts from Keane’s Tom Chaplin, to Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody on No Comfort and to Brandon Flowers on Knock Them Down. You hope on this occasion that they have footnoted a myriad of indie bands in order to prevent any messy court business further down the line.
Memento is by no means a poor album but, the sticking point which hampers enjoyment is the fact that many of the tracks can be compared to other bands work. With some tracks sounding like Keane, others Snow Patrol and some The Killers, you don’t get a sense of ‘the sound’ of Buffalo 77. Lyrically, they are an insightful, interesting proposition but hampered by their plagiaristic take on music.