Marjorie Fair Self Help Serenade

It's clear from even a single listen of Self Help Serenade that Marjorie Fair are a good band, capable of the kind of hugely cinematic, melodramatic stadium-pop that Coldplay and Keane have been far more successful with. It's just that their songs sound indescribably bland, with almost every one falling back on huge, sweeping choruses and introspective verses. It is a shame because, again, they're very decent to what they do (ballad "Please Don't" excepted), but, as long-forgotten pre-fab FM rock groups Black Lab or Verve Pipe can probably attest these days, there's not much continual demand for bland rock. And at least those bands had a single annoying enough to be catchy. Serenade has no highs or lows; it just coasts though a completely homogeneous breeze. So, while nothing is laughably bad, there's also nothing here that'll separate them from a whole mess of similar bands. (Capitol)