One Little Indian
Levy's debut album is a pretty inconsistent affair. The group takes most of its cues from decades' spans of British rock and pop and when they opt for bounciness and sprightly melodies of the mid-'90s as on "Matthew," "In the Woods" and "See Saw" they're able to stand firmly beside witty, misanthropic acts like Hefner and ballboy. These moments work because the genuinely poppy music cracks the bitterness and despair of the lyrics and eliminates the danger of falling into self-seriousness. This trap is exactly what beckons the band on the rest of the disc. "On the Dance Floor" peddles the stunted downstrum of Coldplay's "Yellow" as if it weren't something played to death by contemporary Brit-rock derivatives. Even worse is "Sunday School," where vocalist James Levy's obnoxious croon sounds like Billie Joe Armstrong aping Morrissey. Thankfully the quality of the good moments trump the weaker ones on Rotten Love and once Levy and company separate these winners from the chaff next go around, disc number two will be even better.