The Rumble Strips, 'Welcome to the Walk Alone' (Island)

6
Welcome to the Walk Alone
Critical Mass
Label: Island

by Daniel Cook

This English foursome adopt a moodier blend of soul, rock, and chamber pop on their second record, largely due to outsourcing: Producer Mark Ronson's knack for Spector-ish grandiosity dominates album highlights like "London" (a dead ringer for his '60s throwbacks with Amy Winehouse), while sweeping string arrangements from Arcade Fire's Owen Pallett complement the band's spry tunes without overwhelming them. But beneath the glitzy production, the songwriting lacks luster -- catchier tunes like "Daniel" and "Dem Girls" offer jaunty bouts of melodicism, but the vast majority of this elegant Brit jangle feels a bit recycled.

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