Electric Soft Parade The American Adventure

The game plan: pretend like the Britpop and British art-rock explosions never happened, employ a larger-than-life production (taken on by themselves, naturally) and ignore the subtle twists that made their Radiohead-approved debut, Holes in the Wall, remotely interesting. This is a sophomoric effort in every sense of the term and though the Brighton natives try their best to impress us throughout this epic "adventure,” it’s difficult to not feel like they’re just trying far too hard. Instead of letting the melody burrowed underneath the epic title track win us over, they quickly pummel it with layers and layers of needless extras and pointless twists. Even the most stripped-down of these songs, like the Doves influenced "The Wrongest Thing in Town,” is stretched out about two minutes too long; meanwhile, the shorter, poppier moments like "Lose Yr Frown,” keep it succinct but forget to bring along a memorable hook in the process, seemingly trying to use its off-kilter time signature to win us over. Really, this is symptomatic of American Adventure as a whole; it’s a collection of bland Brit art-rock with predictable twists, songwriting gimmickry and an incredibly inapposite production. We’ve heard this a hundred times before and maybe in 1995 it would’ve had a chance, but this adventure is almost a decade late and the welcoming party has long since moved on. (BMG)