Golden Virgins Songs of Praise

Not sounding at all like they’re from the unmistakably English town, Sunderland, the Golden Virgins are a quartet knee-deep in heavily concentrated Americana and power pop. Their debut album, Songs of Praise, is an unapologetic record based around gut-spilling love songs that constantly visit singer Lucas Renney’s wildly imaginative (and drunken) wordplay. Landing somewhere between the pen of Leonard Cohen and Shane McGowan, Renney’s words shine best in the more downtrodden country songs. And yet, even though the record constantly travels back and forth between slow country and upbeat guitar pop, the Golden Virgins still manage to stay afloat when most bands would sink like a stone. Only "I Am A Camera,” an unforgivable attempt to fit into the ’80s revival, prevents the Golden Virgins from turning this debut into a first rate album. While one song rarely ruins an entire album, this example sure comes close with cringe-worthy lyrics like "Only you can make my shutter click, click, click, click, click” have you reaching for your CD burner to play God and turn it into the great album it should have been. (XL)