If Interpol had been massive Smiths fans, they probably would have made an album that sounded very much like Rotten Love, the debut album by stylish New York outfit Levy. Overall, Levy are emphatically part of the mid-2000s neo-post-punk scene: the vocals are coolly dispassionate, the guitars are sent through masses of effects pedals, the rhythm section is burnished to a high, disco-tinged gloss. But singer/songwriter James Levy seems to have quite the Morrissey fixation: while he doesn't sound much like his Mancunian idol, Levy seems to have internalized Morrissey's unique phrasing, especially the long-held high notes and, crucially, the sense that Levy sang the entire album while constantly making air quotes with his hands in the vocal booth. The unapologetic insincerity of Levy's vocal style is the only thing that makes the half-baked "romanticism" of the lyrics palatable, but on the album's best songs -- "Sunday School" and "Rector Street" in particular -- the band's modern updating of mid-'80s U.K. jangle is catchy enough to make up for the defects.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason