Take in the Sun

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Fortunately, Andrew Brough's departure from Straitjacket Fits wasn't his retirement party. Interestingly, Bike's debut LP inhabits the sonic terrain his previous band's Melt was awash in -- that dark, ringing shimmer full of reverb (and some delay) and speaker-filling density. When Take in the Sun thrives, such as on "Anybody Know" and especially the snarling "Old and Blue," the vet twists his guitar signatures into a more twisting, biting, Shayne Carter-esque territory, leaving enough space for the aural unsaid as much as the said. And he remains capable of more sunny stuff like "Sunrise." It's all fondly remembered and made fresh. Yet the album stops short of outright greatness. There are times when it settles into a too-comfortable sameness, unwilling to stretch the moods and flavors very far, or really go out much on any more passionate limbs. It seems Brough's approach still could use a dose of that ol' hot-pepper, unruly, unrestrained spark Carter provided by association. Frankly, Brough could stand to be a tad more reckless. For instance, the double-tracked vocals are so timidly buried in the barrage of guitar, you wonder if he has enough confidence in his capable, winsome voice. This robs the LP of some immediacy these tracks deserve. But better to err in these uncompromising directions then to tart up a batch of too-glossy pop, and on the more up-tempo crackers such as "Keeping You in Mine" and the title track, Brough and his former rhythm section actually click plenty. In the end, there are plenty of small joys on Take in the Sun to be glad for his return.

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