The Atomic Numbers

Electromotive

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In the final track of the Atomic Numbers' first full-length CD, they admit that they are responsible for the death of rock & roll, while at the same time resurrecting it from its own ashes. A brash punch of power pop, Electromotive sounds like Roger Daltrey couldn't make a studio date for the Who, so they got Jarvis Cocker from Pulp to fill in on vocals. It is "Maximum R&B" performed by punk's more refined second cousin. Detroit resident Tim McHugh peels off sneering commentaries about money, fame, and superpowers with an inexplicably British accent, possibly due to years of listening to David Bowie and XTC albums. As boldly swaggering as their sound is, the listener still gets the feeling that their whole image is very tongue-in-cheek, more like Bono's MacPhisto character and less like Oasis' Noel and Liam characters.

Co-produced by the Verve Pipe's Brian Vander Ark, the Atomic Numbers' feedback-drenched songs (pushed into the red by layers from guitarist Zach Shipps) are heavy but never wander into cartoonish metal territory, often dropping into sparse, whispering segments before crashing back onto themselves. The ambling "I Don't Wanna Go Out, I Don't Wanna Stay Home" must have appeared on an Australian import version of the Police's Reggatta de Blanc that never made it to the States, because it evokes that same pre-punk, studio jam feel. Other songs like "In Your Power" and "Sellout" stand out as guilty pleasures, but the highlight of Electromotive is the aforementioned "Who Killed Rock and Roll." The album closer is a unapologetically bratty confession with huge Queen guitar riffs, a classic rock piano vamp, and an anthemic chorus, destined to propel these Detroit rockers to the fame that they are begging for.

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