Golden Shoulders

Friendship Is Deep

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2002's Let My Burden Be was an overlooked, left-field gem that sounded like a cross between the Modern Lovers, Pavement, and the poppier moments off of the first Violent Femmes record. On its follow-up, Friendship Is Deep, Adam Kline and his rotating cast of Pacific Northwest miscreants mine much of the same acerbic political and emotional territory, but without the snap, crack, and swagger that fueled their infectious debut. There's still a great deal to love here though, as Kline's wit and venom are carried along by an army of talented musicians who help pull some of the more mid-tempo pieces ("Golden Soldiers," "I Will Light You on Fire," "Nothing's Alright") out of the murky deep. The Shoulders are at their best when the gloves come off and garage door starts shaking, and somewhere between the driving "This Is the Test" and the Gary Glitter smack of "The Committee" -- thanks in part to the dual assault of Josh Klinghoffer's meaty bass and clock-like precision of drummer Todd Roper -- they find their groove, rendering everything else on Friendship Is Deep to gravy.

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