Long-View

Another week, another pale quartet from England looking to sneak into American record buyers' hearts before Coldplay's upcoming album. Manchester's Long-View are well-meaning chaps: Like fellow Manc-rock outfits Doves and Elbow, they've responded to what they no doubt view as a cheapening of musical values--in the band's bio, singer Rob McVey warns against the dangers of "wearing a leather jacket and pretending to be from New York"--by making rock about truth and honesty and beauty. A few times on Mercury, Long-View's debut, McVey and his bandmates hit upon such a combination; it's easy to imagine a group of earnest choir boys piping in to add some majesty to the stately opener, "Further," especially once such a group actually materializes. But the reason Coldplay has made such a huge worldwide impact isn't its piety or the ethical way in which the band does business (despite Chris Martin's dogged attempt to divert attention from his cheekbones to the fair-trade cause). It's their willingness to dirty themselves in the open water of pop, to mix it up with Kelly Clarkson fans and provide prom-goers with a comedown from the latest 50 Cent single. Too often, Long-View sounds above that.

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Mikael Wood