An Army of Shapes Between Wars, the second long-player from Long Island's Action Action, finds the group expounding on the shiny, neon-addled new wave revival tack of its predecessor, 2004's Don't Cut Your Fabric to This Year's Fashion, and upping the artful quotient needed to keep them from being rendered a poor man's version of the Killers. With Cyndi Lauper vet William Wittman in the production seat, the vision of brainchild Mark Thomas "MTK" Kluepfel is captured proficiently, whether the outfit operates as a muscular, guitar-driven modern rock band ("The Game") or a synth-fostered pop act ("Smoke and Mirrors"). The latter is a commanding, retro-like winner with a quivering keyboard line and a memorable proclamation ("I'm done/Stick a fork in me") that could easily be a post-modern obscurity circa 1985. If "Sleep Paralysis" is nearly as strong, one can't help but think that the best action can be had when the band is in the guitar chirping mope-rocker mode of "A Tornado; An Owl." Perhaps it's just the atonal vocals on "Chemical Frustration" yielding listener frustration, but the Beatles-meets-Cure pop of "What Temperature Does Air Freeze At?" is sweet, sweet redemption. With that said, An Army of Shapes Between Wars is still more often hits than misses. Once Kluepfel gets over his identity crisis and decides what he wants Action Action to be, he just may turn out his masterpiece.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John D. Luerssen