Ages and Ages — ‘Me You They We’

THE GOOD: Northwest indie pop outfit Ages and Ages gives us its fourth.

THE BAD: Sequencing? “Me You They We” peaks early and loses focus across its final third. But that’s not too detrimental to the overall experience.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Rob Oberdorfer and Tim Perry remain the principle songwriters here, their compositions an equal amount of pure pop whimsy (try and resist the jangly pull of “Just My Luck”) and the right dose of lyrical weight. The new record isn’t short on subtle references to our ever-changing and seemingly tumultuous modern existence. Yet none of it is too heavy; the breezy melodies always are the main focus.

Other highlights include “Unsung Songs” with its sneaky vibes and ghostly, almost angelic harmonies. “Nothing Serious” is a shifty sing-a-long riding a subtle funk. You can tell “Way Back In” was born out west, as it’s laid-back while still upbeat and catchy. I caught you singing along to all the “Do do do dos.”

BUY IT?: Your call.


Two Door Cinema Club — ‘False Alarm’

THE GOOD: Hmmmm …

THE BAD: Not sure.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Irish indie pop band Two Door Cinema Club releases its fourth, yet another formulaic collection that rides in and glides out without making any waves. Actually, a few weeks back while reviewing the new Bad Suns record (another radio-friendly snoozer), I claimed I could simply take THAT review, swap out the album name and use it to describe THIS new TDCC release. Let’s see if that works. From a few weeks ago …

“False Alarm” ends up another tight collection of slick guitar-based tunes. Each one grabs you with its catchy charisma. Put them in album form though, and a pesky “sameness” begins to dominate. If you desire nothing more than some upbeat positivity, go for it. Craving something with more unpredictability and depth? You shouldn’t be here in the first place.

Yep. That’s actually pretty spot-on. We’ll do this yet again if Snow Patrol ever gets around to making another record.

BUY IT?: Meh … whatever.


311 — ‘Voyager’

THE GOOD: Nebraska rockers 311 are back with their 13th.

THE BAD: They made this album about 10 times already.

THE NITTY GRITTY: The toughest reviews to write are for records that barely make a lasting impression.

If you really LOVE an album, it’s easy to gush. If you really HATE an album, trashing it can be fun.

However, when a record leaves you completely indifferent, what else is there to say? 311 latched onto a formula circa 1995 and has been running with it ever since. Each album boasts a funky hybrid of rock, metal, hip-hop and reggae. There’s nothing wrong with that, except all the records are so damn interchangeable. “Voyager” may as well be “Evolver” (2003), “Uplifter” (2009) or “Mosaic” (2017).

I looked through my archives and found this line from the “Mosaic” review dated Oct. 19, 2017 — “C’mon 311 enthusiasts, admit it. These guys have been making slight variations on the same album for over two decades now.” I guess some things never change.

BUY IT?: Your choice.