The Music, ‘Strength in Numbers’

By • Jul 16th, 2008 • Category: Album Reviews

There’s something historic about The Music.

Not in the way that NME hilariously predicted, labeling them “potentially the most important group since Oasis,” when they formed at the early part of the decade. Rather, it’s because there is an undeniable British lineage that runs throughout the band’s third record.

Oftentimes, when performers look to the past and copy a sound, they do so without the reverence of The Music, in a way that makes them sound like imitators instead of appreciators. However, the Leeds quartet turns its ears to some of the most influential movements in the United Kingdom’s storied musical past and compiles a record that pays them proper tribute. The members pretend to be nothing they are not, fusing the sounds of their childhoods and formative teen years into a contemporary look at both 1980’s acid-house rave culture and the 90s’ Brit-pop explosion.

Strength In Numbers is an appropriate namesake and lead track. With a title that alludes to the band’s extended break while vocalist Robert Harvey battled alcoholism, it’s a wide-eyed testament to staying the course. With driving club beats under circular guitars, Harvey’s Perry Farrell-like vocals promise that “no one will come between us”. He could be talking about kicking booze, or maybe his band’s self-aware understanding of exactly what they are. It’s a theme constant within the dozen tracks.

“The Spike” follows the same formula, but with a much larger and driving verse-chorus-verse dichotomy. While “Drugs” and “Idle” are somber, cryptically low-key tunes, “Fire” and “No Weapon Sharper Than Will” are bold rockers with blistering tempos. Aside from a hidden track, the thought provoking and introspective acoustic “Inconceivable Odds” closes the record.

But the odds really aren’t that stacked against The Music—not when they are copping such tried and true methods. It’s the Boo Radleys mixed with Massive Attack. It’s Blur collaborating with Sneaker Pimps. It’s Oasis, Placebo, and Stereophonics spending a day with Paul Oakenfold.

It’s the music of the U.K. packaged together at all once. Maybe there really is strength in numbers.

Soundcheck Magazine, July 2008

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