The Sunshine Underground

Raise the Alarm

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The Sunshine Underground's website has promoted the band as substantially different from Franz Ferdinand or fellow Leeds rockers the Kaiser Chiefs, but you shouldn't believe it for a second: this is more or less the same bass-heavy, '80s-influenced indie stuff that the other guys have put out already. What's different here is not the approach, which is essentially the same, but the amount of disco they've injected into the mix. And you know what? When the blend of disco and indie works, it really works. It's even electrifying. "Put You in Your Place," for instance -- with Craig Wellington's plaintive, defiant vocals, Stuart Jones' funky-ass guitar, Matthew Gwilt's jumpy, syncopated percussion, and Daley Smith's snaky basslines -- sounds fresh even if some of the musical ingredients are nigh on 30 years old. It's by far the strongest track on the album, followed by the handclapping, foot-stomping, bar-brawling "The Way It Is." Raise the Alarm has very few dull moments: "Commercial Breakdown," the band's second single, is wail-heavy and somewhat forgettable, and "Somebody's Always Getting in the Way" sounds a bit soggy too. But by and large, the soft spots are forgivable, and the album as a whole ends up sounding pretty darn fresh the whole way through. Raise the Alarm is cocky as hell, but in a good way -- there's nothing like an album that roughs you up a bit.

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