The Proclaimers

Born Innocent

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Not the most prolific of performers, the Proclaimers' debut for their own label (named after 2001's Persevere disc) is only the Scottish twins' fifth release in 17 years. It finds them in fine soulful fettle, harmonizing like only identical twins can. They even take a harder rocking route for the opening title track (also reprised in an album-closing live version) that practically demands audience participation in shouting out the chorus of "born innocent, found guilty." "Blood on Your Hands" is also a pounding, angry politically slanted anthem in the manner of some of Midnight Oil's more potent work. But the duo's forte is on the more soulful tunes such as the sad "Should Have Been Loved" and the upbeat "You Meant It Then" that exude the classic sound of '60s American R&B/pop. "Unguarded Moments," an unabashed love song, is this album's most dramatic turn. Here the brothers' voices combine to produce near Everly Brothers-styled cohesion on a beautiful melody that is one of their most affecting performances. The song is repeated in a bonus live version. The easy-rolling, foot-tapping melodies of tracks like "Unredeemed," "Role Model," and the accordion-pumped, Cajun-inspired "Dear Deidre" often obscure the songs' sad and sometimes biting lyrics. Edwyn Collins' production occasionally borrows from '80s Springsteen with the instruments rising to dramatic crescendos as on the propulsive "Hate My Love." But the subtlety of gracefully brushed drums, softly strummed acoustic guitar, and electric piano that open the tender "There's No Doubt" show he understands when restraint works best. The pair successfully revives the Vogues' '60s chestnut "Five O'Clock World" in a rousing, rollicking version that is the album's only cover. The album will appeal to longtime fans as well as newcomers first experiencing the Proclaimers' ringing harmonies and sparkling Scottish soul/pop. Emotional and energetic with a full but not slick sound, Born Innocent is far more than a guilty pleasure.

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