You Am I


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The Australian juggernaut's first release in four years is a short (36-minute), sharp and succinct collection that continues the band's snappy punk-pop attack. Despite the group's illustrious history, at least in its homeland where the act has set a record for three consecutive number one albums since 1992, this is old-fashioned, scrappy garage rock with enough snotty punk influences to attract the hardcore faithful and plenty of melody to possibly coax some radio play from stations that added Green Day to their play lists. The disc explodes out of the gate with the roughed up, double time "Thank God I've Hit the Bottom," all one-minute-and-fifty-one seconds of it, but then catches its breath with a slightly more restrained but no less intense Cheap Trick-styled rocker "It Ain't Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore." Singer/songwriter/vocalist Tim Rogers' clever lyrics are firmly in place and he inserts them in songs that occasionally bring Give 'Em Enough Rope-era Clash influences to his established Replacements' style song structures. The Who and the Kinks are further references, the latter on slower selections such as the strummy "Secrets," the following track "Thuggery" and especially the Brit-pop-isms of "Explaining Cricket." Consistently energetic playing, sturdy hooks and Rogers' spunky talk-singing -- somewhat like an angrier Tom Petty -- propel these songs and push them past their obvious influences. Straightforward yet effective vocal harmonies on simple Stonesy rockers such as "The Sweet Life" (at four-minutes-and-twenty seconds, it's the album's longest tune) show the band's maturity even when the melodies are rudimentary. Individually, the songs probably won't bowl you over, at least on the initial listen, but the overall effect is of a seasoned yet still brash rock band doing its job with verve, self-confidence and gusto. Even 14 years into its existence, You Am I is capable of some surprises, but most impressive is how much they sound like edgy guys in their early twenties who love and live for rock & roll. At this relatively late stage of their career, that's a huge accomplishment.

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