Robbers on High Street

Tree City (New Line Records)

I came dangerously close to insanity last year when I heard that Spoon's new record wouldn't be out until 2005. I was nearing straitjacket territory when a friend slid Robbers on High Street's EP Fine Lines my way; the quartet's lo-fi syncopated, piano-driven style was music to my Spoon-lovin' ears. On Tree City, ROHS picks up where the Kinks, and Fine Lines, left off, emphasizing Steve Mercado's gravelly guitar and Ben Trokan's seductive voice, which is especially sexy on the sultry "The Price & Style." The opening track, "Spanish Teeth," comes out punching with a pounding bass-drum/piano beat and a horn-enhanced bridge, while the Strokes-y "Love Underground" evokes the NYC scene that birthed both bands. Though the album is full of stellar indie-rock songs, there are no chemically addictive hooks here, for better or for worse. And disappointingly, Tree City doesn't include the best song off Fine Lines: the well-named "Hot Sluts (Say I Love You)." Still, with this record, Robbers on High Street has stolen Spoon's place in my iPod...and saved me a few hundred bucks on psychotherapy.
 
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