The Enemy

Music for the People

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The children of Brit-pop have a habit of embracing tradition too enthusiastically, accidentally recycling when they should be cannily synthesizing. This winds up being a big problem not on the debut, which often gets by on untrammeled enthusiasm, but rather the second album, where the band stretches out and attempts to dig deeper by mimicking its idols. That's the trap the Enemy fall into on their sophomore set, Music for the People, a record that plays like a CliffsNotes of the past 15 years of British rock. The Enemy's rewrites of the hits of 1995 are so transparent it almost seems accidental, as if the bandmembers didn't really realize that they used the verse of Pulp's "Common People" for "Nation of Checkout Girls" or adapted Blur's "The Universal" for "Last Goodbye." This repurposing of the past isn't limited to the '90s: "Don't Break the Red Tape" stomps just like the Clash's "London Calling," "Keep Losing" crawls like David Bowie's "Five Years," there's a hint of a Johnny Rotten snarl on "No Time for Tears" and more than a hint of Paul Weller's working-class romanticism elsewhere, and the list could go on -- all of it indication of the Enemy attempting to grasp the brass ring, but they're limited by the button-down laddism of post-Oasis British rock. Like so many of the children of Oasis, they ignore the chief lessons of the Brothers Gallagher, and that is that in order to dredge up the past you need to have tunes, charisma, and humor, but the Enemy only have other people's tunes and a notion that rock & roll is so serious they can never crack a smile, an attitude that turns their endless recycling into unintentional parody.

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