Friday, Nov. 9, 2007

Overrated/Underrated

By Evan Rytlewski
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As winter begins to rear its blustery head, let's take a look back at a handful of this fall's major indie-rock albums and see how they stand up against conventional wisdom with our reoccurring feature, Overrated/Underrated:

The Good Life – Help Wanted Nights



Metacritic Score: 60

Consensus: All too familiar

My Take: Underrated. After winning over reviewers with their 2004 Album of the Year—which, while not the album of that year, made a mighty valiant effort—Tim Kasher's non-Cursive (don't call it a side-project) band The Good Life couldn't catch a critical break with their follow-up. "The likes of this album have been released, oh, a million times over, in the past 8 years—it's not bad, not good, just a drop in a calm, tepid, flat ocean," read one typical review. I disagree, though. On the surface, Kasher's sadsack songs about relationships past their expiration date may come across like every other post-Neil Young relationship album, but Kasher writes with more wit and insight than 90% of his contemporaries. Help Wanted Nights does lack the dramatic arrangements and surprise left-turns of Album of the Year, but a stripped down Good Life is still better than no Good Life at all.

Simian Mobile Disco – Attack Decay Sustain Release



Metacritic Score: 73

Consensus: Excellent

My Take: Overrated. Some reviews would have you believe this disc is an Daft Punk-style bacchanal, but it's considerably tamer than that. Try as they might, these thin, minimalist electronica compositions inevitably fall into the background.

Enon – Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds



Metacritic Score: 78

Consensus: Fun stuff

My Take: Accurately rated. Although Enon's mish-mash of frantic, guitar-centric indie-rock and synthy dance-pop, both played with an emphasis on big hooks and brevity, sounds less revelatory than it did on their 2002 breakthrough High Society, the group still throws down one hell of a party. They get added points of beefing up the guitars and rocking out at a time when that kind of bombast is sadly going out of style.
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