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Casualty Of Conflict,
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This review is from: Radio Wars (Limited Edition) (Audio CD)
What made the eponymous debut great was its menacing blend of mildy gothic pop-rock and hints at alt.country. The debut was brooding and haunting, the sound was PJ Harvey enjoying a knees up with Josh Homme, the Cocteau Twins spinning in the background. In retrospective brutality, that debut has not aged well and sounds a little MOR in comparison to some of today's experimental and challenging luminaries. Yet, stand out tracks still stand out. The bombastic induce yawning indifference.
Radio Wars does not differ from this template. All that has changed is the ratio of pop to rock. Where previously Stein convulsed with meaning now she coos passively. Like the debut, Radio Wars' stand out moments appeal. `Cities Burning Down' welcomes back the trademark menace, the latter half of the title track is sinister melody embodied. `Into The Chaos' picks up where `Low Happening' left off, but is neutered in comparison.
The weaker tracks on the album are sadly bland to the point of banality. `Nightingale' is a cadent pop-rock piece, delivered lethargically. `Let's Be Kids' reintroduces the shoe-gazy element of the debut, vocally recalling the Cocteau Twins afresh, but it's a pity these lyrics are so trite. The musical backdrop is frustrating indie Muzak. `Golden Web' is an inadvisable and wistful duet, which embraces lost love against a spider and fly analogy.
Radio Wars is not a bad album, let that be clear. In fact, it is a lot better than initial listening suggests. The good does indeed outweigh the bad, but the so-so outweighs both. The problem with promise is sustainability. It is rare to achieve commercial and critical success and Radio Wars appears to have aimed to please the former rather than the latter. Only time will tell if the radio bites.