The Spent Poets' self-titled debut is a postmodern patchwork of allusions and references -- to pop culture, to literature, and to the band's various influences. Like so many other postmodernists, this alterna-pop band approaches the media-glutted culture of the 20th century both with reverence and with mordant skepticism. The music is a mix of Beatlesque melodies, Queen-era bounciness, Manchester dance rhythms, and electronic samples of other recordings. The lyrics also pack in the references: to Walt Whitman, Sammy Davis Jr., James Dean, Jesus, Anne Sexton, Charles Manson, and (again and again) the Beatles. In "Grassheads," lead vocalist Adam Gates sings "Pop goes the culture, and Paul is dead. Paul is dead, and the Walrus is too." In "You Don't Know Me," he croons "I come from Liverpool...if you say that you're God enough times, sooner or later everyone is gonna believe you." It would appear that no one worships the Fab Four more than the Spent Poets. Ironically, though, their best songs are the ones which rely the least on their influences. "Mr. Einstein" is an adrenaline rush of driving organs and skanky guitars. "Your Existential Past" is a tightly crafted pop gem, with a magnetic arrangement of rhythm guitar and accordion. The Poets criticize the rock revivalists who "want to live in the past," but unfortunately there are really only two songs on the album which don't commit that very sin.
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AllMusic Review by Darryl Cater