Robbers on High Street

Grand Animals

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While New York's Robbers on High Street gained a lot of comparisons to the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand after the release of their first full-length, Tree City, it is Spoon that they turn to for their sophomore album. Not that hints of this didn't exist before, but it's amplified even more greatly here, and most of the tracks on Grand Animals sound as if they were borrowed directly from the Austin band's discarded sketches. Because while lead singer Benjamin Trokan has a voice and delivery style very reminiscent of Spoon's frontman, his words aren't quite up to par with those of Britt Daniel, who's able to tell intimate, interesting stories without sounding clich├ęd or forced. Not that Trokan's lyrics are bad, but they don't compare to Daniel's in the slightest, either trying too hard to be like him ("The Fatalist" and "Crown Victory" both sound like they were written after spending a lot of time with Gimme Fiction), or just plain mediocre ("The Ramp," "You Don't Stand a Chance"). Perhaps if they were put more often to compositions that weren't ripped directly from the Spoon songbook the lyrics wouldn't come across as weak (and the times where the band does take an alternate musical route, like in "Guard at Your Heel" and "Your Phantom Walks the Rail," they work well), but because of their musical choices, Robbers on High Street make that comparison inevitable, and therefore they must also face the consequences of having shown themselves so unmistakably as a lesser band. Yes, there are horns, yes there are string-sounding keyboards and plenty of falsetto (resembling Spacehog's frontman Royston Langdon, strangely enough) to try to set them apart, and it all sounds fine, but it's not more than bits and pieces of other people's work reassembled into something vaguely new, and at this point in their career, Robbers on High Street need to better attempt settling into a style of their own.

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