Float Away with the Friday Night Gods

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Contradictory forces battle throughout "Float Away," as the band's spirited performance bogs down repeatedly in murky mixes. Layers of sound clog the midrange; with little edge in the upper register and with the bottom a little dank, there's less impact than listeners might expect from a band with this much soul. The marquee moment, guest backup vocals and a guitar solo from Bruce Springsteen on "Float Away," is almost completely smothered in layers of noisy activity. A comparison of this track with Roy Bittan's fanfare keyboard fills and Max Weinberg's popping backbeat on Springsteen records makes the point unavoidable: more clarity in the sound and economy in the arrangement would do wonders for Marah. Cutting back on the surf-beat handclaps on several tracks would have been a useful first step, while reining in the guitars a bit on "Crying on an Airplane" would breathe some welcome space into the album's only ballad. For all the bravado of their sound, Marah fails to achieve distinction on "Float Away"; perhaps if they didn't echo the Boss quite so much on lyrics like "When I'm out on the street," from "Leaving," they might move more boldly into their own light.

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