The Legends

Public Radio

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Public Radio Review

by K. Ross Hoffman

The Legends sophomore set effectively abandoned the raucously upbeat, '60s-influenced noise-pop of their surprise indie hit debut, proffering instead a tastefully moody if rather antiseptic evocation of 1980s British post-punk. Joy Division, New Order, Felt and The Cure are among the all-too-obvious reference points -- a fashionable list in 2006, certainly, which makes the album feel like an artifact of its time instead of a canny throwback -- but Public Radio pointedly lacks any of spark and personality of those bands. Indeed, it seems as if Johan Angergård (not so much the band's frontman as its only member, at least on record, as the impersonally succinct liner notes make clear) was determined to hone in on the fundamental elements common to the sound of those and similar groups, and distill them into a pitch-perfect archetype of their era without any overtly distinguishing characteristics. (Titling one of the songs "I Want To Be Like Everybody Else" is a pretty decent indication, and also suggests he's not doing it without a bit of a smirk.) If that was his goal, he's succeeded admirably here: from the bleak, stripped-down machine drum pulse that opens "Today," Public Radio is lavishly laid out, almost wall-to-wall, with atmospheric synth washes, pensive muted guitar leads, and wispy introverted vocals (wanting only for the pained gloominess of a Curtis or Smith), all of it practically buried under layers of reverb. Shades of the indie pop sunniness so intrinsic to Angergård's other projects do leak through here and there, in the tuneful multi-tracked chorus hook of "People Like Us," the lush, strummy single "He Knows The Sun," whose gentle vocal harmonies recall the Acid House Kings, and particularly "Something Good," a bouncy, sixties-ish soft pop trifle that sounds completely out of place here, even if it does ride the distinctive groove of the Cure's "Close to Me." Moments like these offer a bit of balance and nuance that helps make the album actively listenable and not just elegantly dreary; it may not be Angergård's finest moment, but it's a worthy addition to his oeuvre and a respectable if trendy attempt to try something different. It's probably just as well, though, that he saves one of the album's few highlights for last: the relatively ragged, guitar-fueled -- and actually catchy -- "Do You Remember Riley?," which is by far the closest this album gets to the spirit and swagger of Up Against. Anything else would have been getting our hopes up.

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