The Trews

Den of Thieves

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With legendary producer Jack Douglas at the helm, it's perhaps not surprising that the Canadian quartet the Trews emerge as a combination of Aerosmith's melodic hard rock, Cheap Trick's thumping power pop, and Alice Cooper's tough glam -- all acts Douglas has done exemplary work with in the past. Already a well-known outfit in Canada, the band's sophomore effort is the first to receive a wider (i.e., U.S.) release, which is natural since the group's sound is prototypically American. Den of Thieves manages to be both commercial and edgy, in large part due to the band's tendency to combine hook-heavy stadium rockers with more psychedelic, almost Beatlesque flourishes. There are more than a few nods to the Move and ELO, too, especially in the layered synths and backing harmonies that rise to the forefront when the band leaves the boogie on the back burner such as on "The Traveling Kind." What's most impressive is that ballads like "Montebello Park" flaunt their retro "Nowhere Man" influences without exploiting them. There are snatches of the Raspberries here, too, especially in the craftsmanship applied to these tracks, none of which can be considered filler. That's remarkable on an hour-long disc, and makes return spins for another visit to pick up on a tune that might have slipped by the first time necessary and enjoyable. Douglas' production hits all the right notes, leaving room for breathing on the slower tracks while defining the crunchy guitars and ringing cowbell of the Black Crowes-styled rocker "Poor Ol Broken Hearted Me." The album is packed with 14 originals, and only a startlingly sensitive cover of Tracy Bonham's "Naked" keeps this from being an entirely self-written album. There is a lot of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander in singer Colin MacDonald, especially as he reaches for the back rows, but he can also dial down his tendency to oversing when the quieter songs require it. It's hard to imagine the album would be this solid without Douglas' sure hand, but Den of Thieves is nonetheless an impressive second effort that shows the Trews are ready for prime time.

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