First, this is actually The Czars fourth album, although only the two most recent have made it across the pond for distribution in Europe. Second, unlike the previous review, this is the most accomplished album and has the most in depth songwriting of any of their four albums. It is the first album with the two guitar, five member line-up, and some of guitarist Roger Green's songs are the best - 'Lullaby 6000', 'Killjoy', and 'Roger's Song'. He also provides the extra layers of sound and texture. If you've seen them live, you know what I mean - Roger has 20+ guitar pedals. Not to discount the most recognizable part of the band, John Grant, whose voice and songwriting are stronger than ever. Earlier acoustic versions of 'Drug' and 'Lullaby 6000' appeared on a limited edition 3-inch mini CD from the now-defunct Absalom Recordings out of Toronto, but these versions are even better with Roger's lilting acoustic guitar and Tarnation's Paula Frazer on backing vocals. More powerful songs like 'Side Effect' and 'This' maintains the Czars edge, but their real strength is in the quiet, more sicerely passionate numbers like 'Caterpillar' and 'Autumn'. These songs have that essential minor-key darkness for the forlorn tortured soul these keeps the songs out of sappy epic ballad territory that's prevalent in pop music today. The other thing missing in pop music today is dynamics and songwriting and these guys have both. But, not a single dash of "EMO" arpeggiation and pretension, thank god.
They've been mistakenly compared to Radiohead and Jeff Buckley in the past, but recent tours with 16 Horsepower and Low should give you a few more apt bands to weigh and measure them against. Starsailor, Coldplay and JJ72 may be ripping off the Radiohead coattails, but John Grant's got the baritone vocals and songwriting chops to out-muscle them any day.
Oh yeah, and they're from Denver to.