This Is Who We Are

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This Is Who We Are may pass for a typical radio rock record plying what was once known as alternative rock but has since gone mainstream -- a package of upbeat, moderately romantic verse-chorus ditties built around simple riffs invented by the likes of Nirvana but carefully cleaned of any angst. But as with many bands of this sort, the music also betrays their older roots, and in the case of Di-Rect those roots are blatantly explicit, showing that the group is actually following the mainstream rock giants of the '80s, peppering the sound with heartland rock and '60s music to complete the retro trip. There is no better evidence for this than "Walk with Me," the album's centerpiece that sounds like an Extreme song -- a riff-o-rama that goes on and on, interspersed with bombastic choruses and dramatic piano lines that would send a chill down Freddie Mercury's spine, until it almost becomes prog rock simply due to its duration. The rest of the songs are more simple in structure but utilize the same elements, including piano theatrics and a good deal of melodrama, which is balanced by lighthearted bluesy pieces like "Mr. Man" (complete with a brass section) and the occasional Bryan Adams vibe, to be credited to the hoarse guy vocals and a general larger-than-life approach. Now, being old-fashioned has become hip with the advent of retro bands like Killers and Interpol in the 2000s, but the one problem with This Is Who We Are is that the music is simply not memorable -- which is a must if you do a thing someone else has done before. Pompous choruses are not the sort of music to blend into the background easily, but strangely, this is just the case here.

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