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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
VHS or Beta
Bring On The Comets
Astralwerks

Rating: 7.7/10 ?


September 7, 2007
VHS or Beta get a bad rap as some kind of shallow '80s opportunist pirates. But that's a joke; how many acclaimed guitar bands in the Strokes' wake earned cause celebré for re-imagining the Me Generation as a treasure chest for fun hipster trash*? As with recent Dandy Warhols albums, all you can really charge VHS or Beta with is producing no hits.

The closest Bring on the Comets comes to the glistening mirrorball that is 2005's "You Got Me" are the synth-staircase hooked "Take It or Leave It," the U2-huge title track and the Kevin Rowland stomp of "Can't Believe A Single Word." But it's the sturdiest whole they've put their name on yet. The previous Night on Fire was an unprecedented juggernaut of Def Leppard-sized gloss, only it fumbled after a few songs and retreated to clubby instrumental fare. Bad move: they got targeted for horning in on Daft Punk's territory without the proper credentials. Uncanny Robert Smith impersonator on vocals or not, they should've known sooner that the guitars were their gift to dance anyway. As if to apologize, the new album's first treat is "Euglama," a minute-long cheeseball of twin-guitar leads that Phil Lynott could pat his foot to.

No one should be surprised that VHS or Beta went for full-on arena-rock this time around. The sound of Night on Fire was too large to stay under the tight-wound austerity of techno, and the sound of Comets has plenty to get mistaken for that isn't Daft Punk. Like Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls, The Smithereens. The group sheds any remaining aspirations towards hip and delves into golden pools of reverb irony-free. The result is like if Sam's Town worked, without a sign of embarrassing wordplay, conceptual grandeur, or annoying moustaches. The words are blessedly innocuous, leaving the grandiosity to the sound alone, which is positively huge on the pumping "Burn It All Down" or the airlifted "Love In My Pocket." The piano-tickling "The Stars Where We Came From" is an asteroid of a power ballad to end on, and "She Says" boasts a hook that could even swipe a bit of the Killers' radio time: spooky guitar lines from U2's "New Year's Day" and the best falsetto "doo-doo-doo" chorus since Third Eye Blind. The soaring Euro-pyrotechnics posit the album tall in the context of Interpol, Editors and any other neo-reverb band. Take everything that annoys you about those dour fucks. Now caulk the insides with better songs.

*who am I kidding, that's what the 1980s were.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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