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The Independent Culture

Remy Zero: Villa Elaine (Geffen)

It's a brave band indeed who take on the challenge of passionate, powerful stadium rock in this day and age. The main contenders have slunk off to hide behind irony, electronica or lo-fi cacophony, leaving the way clear for a five-piece from Alabama who already have Radiohead, Michael Stipe and Courtney Love in their cheerleading team. Predictably, Remy Zero are redolent of all your favourite brood-rock bands, except with shorter, tauter songs. As well as hearing traces of Radiohead and REM, you'll notice the Verve, the Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and - most thrillingly of all, on "Hollow" - Queen. Less predictably, none of this is a criticism. Benefiting from the most frighteningly meticulous, multi-layered production since Garbage last hibernated in a recording studio, Villa Elaine has enough dance beats to stop it getting too rocky and enough pastoral acoustic guitar to stop it getting too dense. And just when it's threatening to get too angst-ridden, there is "Goodbye Little World", a Weill-inspired romp, and "Problem", the sleekest summer pop anthem this year. A perfect album - if you can forgive the pretentious song titles.