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  Indoor Miner  

Nutria, formed from the ashes of The Possibilities, apparently feature "two of the Southeast's finest pop songwriters, joined by two of the region's best musicians" (their words, not mine). However, you feel that Nutria fail live up to that sort of hype on either score. Sure, everything here is competent. The songs are competently written, and they're competently played, but on early listens there doesn't appear to be anything here to lift them above the rest of the crowd. You feel that though they've clearly listened to the likes of Elvis Costello and REM, artists who have clearly known how to write great songs at some point in their lives (even if neither have been too successful in achieving that of late), Nutria lack the necessary skills to do the same themselves. But fortunately there's a few numbers here that have wormed their way into my head after repeated plays. And just in time, too. The bad review was half-written!

Anyway, let's get down to specifics…

The Costello references kick in immediately. In fact, the opening track, Runaway sounds like something Elvis might have recorded in his early years, featuring an intro that brings to mind Red Shoes off his debut album My Aim Is True, but with a production perhaps more reminiscent of his This Years Model follow-up. But with the exception of Shonuff, with its distinctive riff, none of the next few tracks really stand out for me, and it's only when we get to the halfway stage of this album that things really pick up.

Indeed, Hindsight 20/20 has a much stronger hook than what has preceded it, with its Beatle-ish melody and harmonies, although I feel that whichever singer (either Jason Gonzalez or Bob Spires) sings on this one should really have passed it to the other, because his straining does little for the song. Metronome is probably my pick of the album with its interesting, almost military, drum beat, rather good bass riff, and slightly off-kilter melody. It's also got a really decent chorus, which brings to mind The High Strung. Sunlight is another goodie, being another Beatley one in a cutesy sort of way. Indeed, its very And I Love Her, with a melody good enough to have me wake up singing it a couple of days after I'd last heard it!

You Don't Know follows and is a good enough song, but I can't help thinking that the performance is crying out for a bit more oomph. Saying that it drags would be over-stating the case, but I think this one should be...well...kicking ass! Indeed, this is one area where Nutria could definitely improve next time they're in the studio. Why not go for a bit more excitement, lads? Mr Costello had a lot more spark when he wrote those short sharp numbers on those early albums.

Apologies if I sound mean-spirited here, because this isn't a bad album by any means, so be assured that this criticism is well-intentioned. Nutria might know there way around a tune, but with a more lively production Metronome could definitely have been a lot better. As it is...well, much better than I first thought.

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