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There are only a handful of double albums that really need to be that length, and Wow doesn't really make the club. The band's core sound is laconic alternative rock, with guitar riffs stripped of commercial sheen, but supported by piano and synthesizers on most cuts; think Muse, only with decidedly less drama (not a good thing; Muse is all about drama). The band explores a lot, trying out all possible permutations of their style: acoustics-and-strings ballads, U2-ish larger-than-life tunes, acerbic faux-metal cuts, ethereal interludes, and, most prominently, quasi-classical theatrics with slow build-ups, dramatic vocalizations, and key and tempo shifts. But this doesn't really work within the alt rock frame, which is about catchy and emotional songs, not the higher mathematics of showing off as laid out by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In other words, the more sophisticated parts feel meandering (and not really sophisticated), while the actual songs are solid but not stellar, and don't have hooks capable of making it through the morass of ill-advised adventurousness to really make an impact. On the upside, this is a record that would last long, and can be started with any track; it's the same mix of rock buzz and neo-prog musical constructions throughout, delivered with gloomy pomp, as on the grungy "Broadway." Besides, ranging all over the map means most listeners will be able to find a track or two they really like. But those won't be mind-blowing, and on the whole, Wow is neither complex not passionate nor catchy enough to really live up to its name.

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