Album: The Music

Welcome to the North, VIRGIN
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The Independent Culture

Despite its title, The Music's follow-up to their 2002 debut was actually recorded in America's South, with Brendan O'Brien overseeing the sessions. He's given the band a steelier sound, which may well prove popular. On "Bleed From Within", I was reminded of Christian rockers Creed, and there's an American bite to the guitars which snarl fearsomely on the single "Freedom Fighters". But elsewhere it seems clumsily bolted together; and there's an air of trying too hard to impress, as they add yet another guitar, counter-melody, or effect to a song already overburdened with distractions. Robert Harvey's piping tenor, meanwhile, summons unwelcome memories of Yes frontman Jon Anderson, a comparison strengthened by lyrics about the sky being "just a diamond reflecting the sea", and pompous locutions such as "the sun is bleeding into mine eye". But how can it, when thine head is thus far up thine arse? His stridency, too, is wearying - by the time he's bawling "Open Your Mind" at the album's close, that's just about the least of one's inclinations. Still, lavishly appointed with the flatulent yearning that has proven so successful for the likes of Keane and Coldplay, Welcome to the North can be confidently expected to build on the half-million sales.

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