The Clarks

Restless Days

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Pittsburgh's Clarks have been around for a while now, some 20 years, actually, and they've been through the whole music business cycle of starting a band, building an independent fan base, releasing albums on their own, learning to create a sustainable business as a working rock band, signing to a major label, being dropped by a major label, and gracefully surviving it all with their energy and creativity intact. And Restless Days, the group's eighth album, proves that the Clarks still have plenty of musical validity left. They don't stray far from their usual power pop template here, which is a good thing, since they do it so well, sounding a bit like Tom Petty crossed with the Smithereens, but some of the country elements in their sound are a little more pronounced on this album, which again is a good thing. It creates freshness, and draws attention to the Clarks' wonderful vocal harmonies. Among the stand-out tracks here are the urgent anthem "Inside," the buoyant "Trampoline," the wonderfully observed "Sunshine," and a driving, garage rock version of the classic "What a Wonderful World," which doesn't exactly redefine the song but at least forces a second look at it, which is really what you should want if you're covering a standard. Sounding as fresh as when they started out, the Clarks continue to prove that getting older doesn't mean diminished accomplishments, and this album is easily one of their best. Two decades in, that says something.

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