Four years and one failed major-label deal after their debut, Fiction Plane finally return with their second album. While Everything Will Never Be OK was something of a stiff upon its release, the subsequent success of mope-rockers like Snow Patrol and the return of singer/songwriter Joe Sumner's obvious heroes Smashing Pumpkins to active duty means that Left Side of the Brain is being released into a much more amenable musical moment. (And if nothing else, opening for the giant reunion tour of Dad's band the Police in the summer of 2007 can't hurt.) The only question is whether Sumner is ready for the spotlight, and the answer is: maybe, but it would be nice if he found a good lyricist first. Songs like the bouncy first single "Two Sisters" (not the Kinks favorite) and the epic, U2-influenced "Anyone" are potential radio hits and Paul Corkett's glossy but small scale production is a better fit than the anonymous big rock sound David Kahne brought to the debut. But on seemingly every song, Sumner lets loose with a clunker of a lyric that's especially noticeable given how high and centered his voice is in the mix. (And the answer is yeah, he kinda does sound like his Dad.) The worst by a landslide is the no doubt earnest but somewhat insufficient chorus to the protest song "Death Machine": "F*** you and your death machine/I ain't gonna fight no more." All righty then. Clearly, the ability to ignore the lyrics in favor of the songs' anodyne tunefulness is a big help. Fiction Plane will never come close to being the Police, U2 or even Smashing Pumpkins, but there is every possibility that they could possibly become the next Travis.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason