The Music, Academy, Bristol

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The Independent Culture

The Music's self-titled first album was critically acclaimed and sold more than half a million worldwide.

The Music's self-titled first album was critically acclaimed and sold more than half a million worldwide. It brimmed with teenage angst and riff-driven vitriol, harnessing the power of punk and frenetic dance beats in equal measure. Many consider it a modern-day rock classic, and the band's sound has crossed over to North American shores better than most.

That album was serviced well tonight, providing many of the highlights of a powerful set by the young Leeds four-piece. The second album, Welcome to the North, looks likely to make a dramatic entry into the UK album charts, after its first single, "Freedom Fighters", charted in the Top 20. Having received extensive radio play and MTV coverage, it remains their most obvious classic-rock outing to date. The album as a whole has been given an American makeover by the producer Brendan O'Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, Soundgarden), and although there have been critical swipes about pompous lyrics - "thine eyes", on "Bleed from Within", being a good example - one gets the feeling that this young band are still learning the ropes.

Tonight they come out with all guns blazing. Building an impressive reputation for their live shows since May's stirring Homelands festival appearance, they don't fail to impress at Bristol's intimate Academy setting. The obvious star is the vocalist-guitarist Robert Harvey, whose barely contained, adrenalin-fuelled performance more than makes up for the rest of the band's static demeanour. His powerful falsetto rips through "Welcome to the North" and older classics such as "Take the Long Road and Walk It". "The People" starts with a heavy riff reminiscent of Zeppelin, before the beats veer tantalisingly toward a neat funk groove. It's not often that you see rock crowds doing old-skool dance moves, but The Music engender such a response in many of the audience.

Perhaps the biggest element missing from their new album is the sheer, unbridled energy and naïve passion of their debut. Harvey said recently that the high-velocity, lo-fi sound of the debut was down to the fact that they didn't know their way round a studio, but that was also part of its appeal. Having formed at school in Kippax, Leeds, in 1999, they had that edge of a band desperate to make an impression. It also sounded quintessentially English, whereas the new album relies more on US-friendly rock riffs and anthemic choruses. Still, that sound does work better in a live setting, when mixed up with the rough-and-ready grooves of earlier tracks.

Highlights are saved until the end, when niggling electronic pulses make way for the trio of "The Truth Is No Words", "Take the Long Road" and an inspired reworking of "Disco" that has the Academy jumping in unison. They are a talented young band still learning their trade, and in the current climate of short-lived vogues, they look capable of weathering the tide.

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