Born in the Desert

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First Looker were Born Too Late, and now they're Born in the Desert...jeez, you kids, make up your mind already! Looker's second full-length album finds the New York four-piece a year older and sharper than they were on Born Too Late, and while their energetic and insistent pop/rock attack hasn't changed much since the first LP, Born in the Desert does sound noticeably more muscular and confident, with Boshra Al Saadi's vocals showing greater strength and producer Erik Paparozzi giving the group a stronger aural backbone in the studio. Al Saadi and Nicole Greco's sharp, hooky songs recall the glory days of new wave in New York, but without sounding like they're reaching for a retro approach -- these are simply clever and well-crafted tunes played with fire and enthusiasm, while Looker have mastered the increasingly rare art of being clever but not self-conscious. While Looker are most engaging when they turn up the tempos (which is most of the time), the sweet harmonies on the midtempo "Help Me Roada" are thoroughly charming, and "After My Divorce" has an easygoing swing that would have done Blondie proud on their first couple albums. Al Saadi and Greco are a great guitar team, building a solid wall of sound from a welcome variety of tones and attacks, and the rhythm section (A.J. Lambert on bass and Robbie Overbey behind the drums) keeps things moving without clobbering the melodies. Born in the Desert features 11 songs that rock solidly while delivering the kind of hooks and harmonies pop obsessives will swoon over, and it's clear that Looker are a band well worth your time and attention.

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