March 13, 2008

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Switches, Lay Down the Law
Interscope Records, March 18
Ah, dang it, I cringe at the thought of how many undeserved, jealousy-born spitballs are going to be fired at these guys by U.S. critics. First, they’re having a jolly blast welding Franz Ferdinand to Electric Light Orchestra; second, NME digs them; and C, the title track is such an obvious shoeshining of Franz’ “The Fallen” that unless a second single comes out toot-sweet the LP might not make it past the starting gate. If luck is with them they’ll survive the snark-storm, which will almost certainly equal what Cold War Kids had to endure when they were written off as a Strokes wannabe.

There’s a lot of Franz microwaving here, admittedly, and “Drama Queen” is so much like ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” that it begs the cynical question of why they didn’t just become a dual-purpose tribute band. But mating Coldplay with 1975-era Sweet is a neat trick (“Snakes and Ladders”), as is the huge-hook bellbottom-glam of “Coming Down,” a slam-dunk hit that could play a major part in these guys’ joining the front lines of the next 15-minute British invasion. AEric W. Saeger