Sights & Sounds: Can’t Knock It Out of the Park Every Time

THE GOOD: British rhythmic rock duo the Big Pink comes back for a second thump session.
THE BAD: Sophomore slump?
THE NITTY GRITTY: We first discovered these boys in 2009 when the stomping catchy “Dominoes” grabbed us by the ears and didn’t let go. Their debut album A Brief History of Love soon followed and proved to be an awe-inspiring debut, filled with chunky rockers boasting airtight backbeats and humongous hooks.
Future This begins with more of the same, its lead track being the instantly fetching single “Stay Gold.” Problem is the rest of the disc doesn’t live up to that promising vibe; too much of the new album feeling half-baked and uninspired. The set does somewhat recover during its second half. Tracks like the fierce “Jump Music” and the slightly melancholy (but still punchy) “Lose Your Mind” find the guys nearly back on track. But even these improved efforts don’t leave us completely satisfied. Future lacks its predecessor’s wit, innovation and sheer power.
BUY IT?: Your call. The Big Pink has already proved they’re better than this. Maybe next time.

THE GOOD: British indie band Field Music is back with their fourth.
THE BAD: If prog-rock institutions like Yes, King Crimson or Genesis (Peter Gabriel years) emerged three decades later towards the end of ’90s Britpop and the beginning of the 2000’s post-punk movement, they may have sounded a hell of a lot like Field Music. The boys’ tunes are mostly agreeable, but sometimes these lads are too damn clever for their own good.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Plumb is a record filled with progressive quickies — 15 songs in 36 minutes with some of the tracks jumping into each other. Cuts such as “A New Town” and “From Hide and Seek to Heartache” embrace traditional structures and bold melodies, slightly resembling other jittery British acts like Futureheads and Maximo Park — bands that members of Field Music have joined on occasion.
Most of Plumb though can’t be separated into pieces. The album riddled with preludes, links and finales. One must endure the guys’ sheer ambition.
BUY IT?: Maybe. Field Music is a polarizing band — you either love the intricacies or find them far too intrusive. Plumb won’t convert past detractors.

OF MONTREALParalytic Stalks
THE GOOD: Kevin Barnes and company come back with their 11th challenging outing.
THE BAD: Where do I begin? Stalks could be considered a major disappointment except to the most diehard OM fans.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Barnes has always been a self-indulgent artist. Of Montreal hasn’t even been an actual “band” for about eight years now. So the records are open to the man’s every whim. But the last four discs never lost that perfect balance between self-satisfying (and to hell with the listener) experiments and genuinely good bits.
You didn’t mind sitting through the guy’s quirks because you knew there was a catchy “Wraith Pinned to the Mist” or “She’s A Rejecter” waiting to pop out around the next corner. On Stalks, Barnes simply carries the directionless drones and avant-garde noodlings a few steps too far. The first half of the album is decent — “Spiteful Intervention” aggressive but infectious, “Dour Percentage” coming off like Todd Rundgren (another studio whiz-kid) in his prime.
Once you hit the album’s second half though, forget it. Songs become very long and utterly directionless; memorable melodies and cohesive lyrics sacrificed for flights of fancy.
BUY IT?: Sadly, no.

MEAT LOAF – Hell in a Handbasket
SAY ANYTHING – Anarchy My Dear
THE TING TINGS – Sounds from Nowheresville


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