A generation has passed since punk first raised its snarling, spitting head. Back then, all mentions of the past were eschewed, and bands skillfully hid their influences, or at least denied them. Well, times change, elitism is no longer de rigueur, and nowadays groups are happy to reference those that came before them. Hailing from Dublin, it's no wonder that U2 left a deep impression on Mrnorth, but the younger quartet doesn't so much sound like U2 as feel like them. It's an aura Jerry Harrison's superb production accentuates by encouraging Mrnorth's epic styling while playing up the denseness of their sound, much like Steve Lillywhite did with U2, but without the histrionics. But unlike U2's early albums, Lifesize is much more intricate musically, for Mrnorth boast a pair of guitarists and a keyboardist among their ranks. The Edge was a phenomenon, but even he couldn't simultaneously interweave three melody lines, and it's the interplay between the two guitars and keyboards that is the heart of Mrnorth's sound, and sets them apart from their famed compatriots. Besides, the band sports other influences, like the angular grunge that squelches across "Speak No Evil" and the stomp of Led Zeppelin on "Star from A." There are more hard rock riffs spewing from "Silver Mouth," while a heavy metal roar is combed in between lovely piano passages on "The Bearded." At their best, as on the ready-for-the-arena "Give Me Life," Mrnorth transcend genre boundaries entirely. Lifesize is big enough to lose oneself in for days. Then you can tackle the set's universal themes, wrestle with the somewhat veiled lyrics, and, overcome by Colin Smith's superb vocals, let the rich atmospheres envelop you for hours, lingering over the magnificent music, ringing chords, lilting arpeggios, and shimmering sheets of melody. It took Mrnorth five years to finally record this, their debut album, and it was well worth the wait.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene