It's amazing that crap like Third Eye Blind or Lifehouse gets played on the radio, and smart, gutsy, honest music such as Marah is ignored. "Kids In Philly", while not quite the masterpiece it aspires to be, is one of the most ambitious rock albums in a while. Most of the all time great albums have a themetic unity that glues the songs together. "Born To Run", "Blood On the Tracks", "OK Computer", "London Calling" etc. etc. "Kids" biggest asset is the very same themetic unity, but it may also be the hindrance keeping the album from being an instant classic along with the above mentioned. "Kids" is a great leap forward from "Cut The Crap", their first album, much the same way that "Being There" was a leap forward from "A.M." for Wilco. The first album was a great collection of songs held together by everything except theme. This time they have tried for a concept album. Not an overblown and pretentious album like "The Wall", but an album about the streets of Philadelphia, like Springsteen used to write about Asbury Park. These guys are excellent songwriters, giving nearly every line and word the right detail so the listener can close their eyes and imagine being where someone has been killed, or fishing under a bridge, on in the middle of Christian St. I've been to Philly once in my life and I feel like I know the city like the back of my hand. The characters are ones we all know, and love them or hate them they keep it interesting. This is one of those albums that needs to be listened to straight through, unlike "Crap", where the individual songs may stand out more. That's not to say that their aren't great songs here. "Faraway You" kickstarts the album at a furious pace, and things hardly stop to catch their breath until deep into the second half. "My Heart is the Bums On the Street" is Philly soul with a heart, and "Round Eye Blues" is heartbreaking with its "please be my little baby" plea at the end. These songs, along with several others, stand out. Which means there may be a stray track or two here that keep it from classic status, which is the only problem. In making an arty "concept" album the band may have included one or two weaker songs because of theme, and left off great songs because they didn't "fit". "From the Skyline of a Great Big Town" is OK, with some nice lyrics, but falls short of the high standard set by "It's Only Money, Tyrone" and "Barstool Boys". "Point Breeze" may be the most instantly catchy song here, but gets annoying after a few listens, maybe because the guitar riff sounds like "Shiny Happy People" by REM. However, these rare missteps should not keep you from checking these guys out. If you're a real, serious music fan you should pick up this album. It's 10 times better than anything on rock radio, and comes from a band that will only get better.