The Red Elvises

Lunatics & Poets

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    5
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On Lunatics & Poets, the Red Elvises continue their string of goofy retro with over the top vocals, tribal drumming, and some fine guitar/piano/horn work. They haven't done much to update their sound, save when they occasionally nod toward a reggae beat or introduce a tumbling Cuban-style piano. For the most part, the Red Elvises dish out nice but forgettable melodies, but it is clear that the main objective of the band is to get people on their feet to dance the night away, not finding and honing intricate melodies. This is not necessarily a bad approach in a live setting, but Lunatics & Poets suffers a bit since the melodies they present are not strong enough to overcome the novelty of the lyrics, which rely on clich├ęs and simple rhymes that lose their flavor after one or two spins. The band sometimes breaks out from under this weight, as in the minor shuffle "Venice, USA," which has the strongest hook on the record, or "Ticket to Japan," with its fantastic organ track, female backing vocals, and lovely chorus. In the end, Lunatics & Poets is essentially a tease for what is undoubtedly a great live show, but not completely engaging when listening on headphones, in the car, or at home.

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