British trio Tinstar, who apparently took their name from the same scene in High Noon that the late-'80s L.A. alt-country group Tin Star already borrowed it from, don't seem to be able to decide what they are, sample-happy experimentalists or old-fashioned rockers in the U2/early Radiohead tradition. David Tomlinson's Bono-like vocals -- his performance on "Sunshine" is practically an Unforgettable Fire tribute -- ride over clubby rhythms and electronica-derived sonic textures, sounding like some sort of unholy alliance between Beck, Coldplay, and Moby. (Speaking of Moby, the gospel samples he popularized on Play show up on the sleepy "Lolita," furthering how clichéd their use became after that influential record.) While this might sound like a less-than-salubrious combination, it works more often than not, especially on the summery, vaguely Brazilian title track and the minimalist Giorgio Moroder groove of the throbbing "Treacle." When it doesn't work, it's usually Tomlinson's fault; he's a terribly mannered singer and his lyrics are uniformly dire. If Tinstar's other two members, Tim Bricheno and Tim Gordine, ever decide to do an instrumental side project, it'll probably be pretty great.
by Stewart Mason