Perhaps concluding that fusing two fading musical styles is a surefire way to stave off cultural obsolescence, Cooper Temple Clause layer vehement grunge-rock melancholia atop the kind of big-beat electronica ESPN uses to add emphasis to fourth-quarter touchdowns. Most of the time on Kick Up the Fire, CTC's second album, the result sounds as overwrought as attempts to stave off cultural obsolescence usually do: The black-hole whooshes behind the chugging guitar that motors "Blind Pilots" suggest aimlessness, not immensity, and the tune's Grandaddy-style synth sprinkles just make it sound like the band are stuck in the middle of a crowded video arcade; worse, "A.I.M."'s canned beats pulse with the empty swagger of the song's namesake technology, AOL's Instant Messenger. But occasionally Cooper Temple Clause actually make the fusion work, as in the spooky "Talking to a Brick Wall," which pairs spindly Argentinean string whine with glitchy, clipped handclaps before blasting into a slo-mo chorus you'll bang your head to involuntarily. And despite a title that suggests Journey, "Into My Arms" evokes Spiritualized's warm morning-after blues, a distant harmonica wheezing over bleary waves of electric piano while singer Ben Gautrey remembers "the silent chill and the smell you made." Flame on, dudes.
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