Marah If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry

Perhaps in a response to most critics bashing last year’s 20,000 Streets Under The Sky for its excessive qualities — not yours truly though — the Philly kids have come back swinging with this raw, off-the-cuff album that sounds out of breath from the moment it begins. Brothers Serge and Dave Bielanko have always aimed for a sound akin to Bruce Springsteen fronting the Replacements, and If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry is about as close as they’ve come to date. Their sheer fan-like devotion to all things pure about rock’n’roll has always given Marah albums an innocence that is endearing, but at times it has been pushed to the point of sounding forced. Nothing on this record sounds forced at all, which is to their benefit. By the time they get into the Faces-like stomp "Sooner Or Later,” it’s clear that the Bielankos are just here for a good time and it’s pointless to read any more into their methods than that. However, it is good to hear that they are still in touch with their blue-collar roots on songs like "The Dishwasher’s Dreams” and "The Apartment.” Above all, like the title suggests, If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry is a loud expression of joy for simply being alive, and that’s not a bad thing to feel once in a while. (Yep Roc)