The Avett Brothers

Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions

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The first two cuts on the Avett Brothers' Four Thieves Gone, "Talk of Indolence" and "Pretty Girl from Feltre," reveal that the brothers' style of folk (with lots of other stuff thrown into the mix) is intriguingly left of center. And while some listeners may be somewhat tired of depressed college types who sing, "Be loud, let your colors show...try to keep the madness low" in a nasal drone, they're probably not used to hearing the singer backed by kitchen-sink arrangements that include piano, harmonica, and shouting that stands in for background singing. On "Distraction #74" the band verves in an entirely different direction, doing its best impression of the basement-era Band, updated for the post-millennium. As the album moves on to tracks like "Sixteen in July," "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa," and "A Lover Like You," the Avett Brothers -- Scott Avett, Seth Avett, and Bob Crawford -- continue to make good music, but these songs lack the raw energy of the first four tracks. Things pick up again on the jumpy "Matrimony," and "Pretend Love" has a lovely, gentle feel about it, but the songs, though quite good, fail to match the intensity of the openers. One feels, in the end, that Four Thieves Gone, at nearly 74 minutes, is just too darn long. Nonetheless, the Avett Brothers' style is much fresher and more fun than the average folk or alternative country group's, and is well worth checking out for those tired of the same old, same old.

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