October 30, 2008


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The 88, Not Only But Also
Island Records, Oct. 28

I’m not crystal-clear on what the rock world is supposed to do with a major-label-glossed 88… oh wait, you’re absolutely right — use their stuff in commercials and movies. They’ve worked hard to get here, certainly, playing every mind-numbing pigpile-fest in which they could scam a slot, and their regulation-indie taste for mediocre melody still pervades, which they got away with in 2005’s Over and Over, an album far more first-generation British Invasion-authentic than this due to crap production and an apparently real reverence for some nebulous notion of the 60s.

This time, between album opener “Go Go Go”’s vick of The Who’s “I Can See for Miles” and a lot of meta-Raspberries and kinda-Beatles they’ve still got a lot to offer nu-mods (is anyone still living off that stuff?), but everything’s cut with a little too much dishwasher-safeness, i.e. Coldplay on “I’m Nothing” and Franz Ferdinand throughout. This all doesn’t make it bad — you’ll surely be getting this shoved up your nose on alternative radio – but, I dunno, I guess I’m just not hearing enough curveballs to envision a bright future for them, particularly in an economic climate that’s about to become a piranha tank with only the catchiest of the catchy surviving past one record. C+EW