Had ELO and the Kinks formed a supergroup in 2006, they might sound a little like Simon Dawes. The Los Angeles band of mates saunters back into the realm of '70s pop/rock on its full-length debut, the Tony Berg-produced Carnivore. It's a solid effort channeling their light, capricious nature and the swagger of their humble L.A. abode. They succeed in skirting by the new millennium post-punk revival with their own ballsy batch of indie rock songs, and they do it without sounding too pretentious like the Strokes or too collegiate like their labelmates the Walkmen. Each song sounds uniquely fresh, and achieving that alone in the thick of image-driven bands seems daunting in 2006; however, Simon Dawes seem to really mean it. Vocalist Taylor Goldsmith comes off so convincingly with his jaded sense of humor, yet Simon Dawes aim to get your rocks off, too. From blistering, hip-shaking standouts such as "The Awful Things" and "Save Your Ticket" to high-spirited singalongs like "Behind the Bleachers" and "Have a Heart," Simon Dawes work hard to never let you down. Goldsmith tells it like it is throughout Carnivore, too, and the slinky basslines and confrontational lyrics of "Salute the Institution" is their classic in the making. Goldsmith howls "You want it all but you don't do enough/You want the sun and moon for your kids/You want it back when they turn 18/Unless they go to college," in the end composing a hint of playful absurdity amidst the band's approachable likableness. Those music fans who cling to Pitchfork's mantra of indie rock might not notice the greatness of Simon Dawes' work in progress right away, but that itself makes Carnivore worth listening to.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson