Powderfinger

Odyssey Number Five

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Powderfinger may have climbed up into Australian's popular approval prior to Odyssey Number Five with the ease of a nearby dumbwaiter, but North America began to look like more of a challenging proposition. Surely being included on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack, roping in Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots knob-twiddler Nick DiDia, and touring with Coldplay made all the sense in the world from a publicist point of view. But what about those pesky songs? That's the thing: this record is little more than a slightly off-base perspective into the world of mid-'90s American grunge and its conspicuous debt to Neil Young. At least when this tactic is taken, the album is a mildly enjoyable jaunt through the pebbles of unchallenging rock. The title track takes Placebo -- sneers and all -- and places them in a pair of stadium trousers; single "My Happiness" drowns a hip-hop-inspired guitar riff better than most bands of their stature. Too often, though, Powderfinger is too earnest, a bit too careful in their career, for the record to rise above the trap of seeking the mythic Valley of American Gold, once again proving that there are few things more destructive to a band's strengths than a careful marketing strategy.

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