I’ve been a huge fan of Robbers on High Street ever since their first CD, Fine Lines (which oddly enough is the perfect soundtrack whilst reading The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman). Fine Lines is a seriously cool CD of magically dark tracks with amazing riffs; it has the feel of something created spontaneously and perfectly on the first try.
Tree City by the Robbers, the follow-up, grew on me over time until I now listen to it almost as much as Fine Lines. In both cases, it’s like listening to a version of Spoon that isn’t about coiled tension but more about release. The lead singer even sounds a little like Spoon, although I’ve never found the band derivative.
However, now it’s 2007 and the release of the full-length Grand Animals finds me a bit nonplussed. Now I feel a bit like the band is working backwards. Grand Animals would’ve been an acceptable first effort, with Tree City a great sophomore leap forward. Fine Lines, as their third CD, would’ve seemed like a genius step up.
But as it stands, regression seems to be occurring. Or at the very least, a hiccup. The best stuff on Grand Animals, like “The Fatalist”, shares the kind of surging urgency and melody that typifies their best work on Fine Lines and Tree City, but also debuted on an EP, The Fatalist and Friends, in 2006. Most of the rest of the CD is oddly lacking in tension and, in some cases, especially the quieter pieces, sounds like any number of other bands. I don’t mind the CD, but it’s not dynamic and it doesn’t even sound like it’s a coherent album at times.
Hopefully, next time they’ll put out something better. I really love this band when they’re in top form.
From Tree City: