American Princes

Less and Less

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There's a lean and wiry energy to Less and Less, the third album from American Princes, which drives the material strongly enough that it's easy to overlook the fact these guys can write strong melodies with welcome twists and turns, and play them with admirable muscle and finesse. They also have a welcome feel for dynamics, knowing when (and how) to quiet things down -- while the album is dominated by caffeine-powered uptempo rockers, "You and Them," "TV Keeps Me Up," and "Annie" are plaintive, acoustic-based numbers that offer a respite from the buzz and clatter without losing the underlying tension that unifies this album. Guitarists David Slade and Collins Kilgore are a great tag-team combo on this set -- the push-and-pull between their interwoven guitar figures is the core of American Princes' attack, and while they've got a way to go before they become a heavyweight championship duo on a par with Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd or Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, they bring enough fine noises to the table to confirm their considerable gifts. Al Weatherhead's production and recording is workmanlike and unobtrusive, though it's hard not to think this material could stand just a bit more aural depth. Still, Less and Less is intelligent and engaging music from a band growing steadily with each album -- if they keep this up, they could have a real triumph on their hands one of these days.

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