The Proclaimers

Restless Soul

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The Proclaimers are nothing if not consistent. Since their 1987 debut, Scotland's Reid brothers released six records that were consistently inconsistent, relying on two to three brilliant cuts per album amid a veritable sea of good-natured filler. On their second release for their own Persevere imprint, Craig and Charlie have crafted another lopsided collection of willfully earnest tunes about love, sex, God, and whiskey. Recorded in London, Restless Soul doesn't retain the snap, crackle, and pop of 2003's Born Innocent; rather, it's awash in surprisingly deep Brill Building reverb. This could have been a good thing, but the dated keyboard patches and over-reliance on mid-tempo balladry drags the whole affair into the Thames. As always, there are a few bright spots. The spirited opener, "When Love Struck You Down," with its infectious melody and biting refrain of "When love struck you down/Oh, how hard you prayed/But God didn't come to your aid" is a highlight, "I'm Gone" is as simple a drinking song as anything the Pogues ever raised a glass to, the jazzy sex romp "That's Better Now" proves that the brothers must need extra-large kilts, and the fiery closer, "One More Down," revels in the frantic, overdriven, and ballsy delivery that won the boys from Leith a devoted following in the first place. Come to think of it, that about sums up every Proclaimers record. Their utter lack of pretension always trumps the negative, and while they may be inconsistent, they're still the best Buddy Holly-kissed honky tonk/R&B/roots rock sibling duo to ever come out of the U.K.

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