Aqualung Strange and Beautiful

If any band best exemplifies the musical stereotype of "sad-sack, maudlin college rock” it is Aqualung. Apparently, singer Matt Hale and guitarist Ben Hale don’t consider it music unless it’s sentimental and yawn-inducing. The Hales consistently over-inject their songs with emotion to the point that its honesty is questionable. Matt over-bakes every note he can and fakes opera like the big boys while Ben submits to his brother’s ruminations by drizzling out the most tepid guitar lines he can fathom. The result is an incredibly passive record; not one microtone will jar listeners or invoke any tension and, in that way, the record is completely flat. In truth, that lack of identity may be Aqualung’s most unnerving quality. After all, how can a band make emotionally charged music without evoking any real emotion? Either that’s the case, or I dreamt it because Strange and Beautiful put me to sleep. (Columbia)