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And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead | Worlds Apart (Interscope)
Any music obsessive - and therefore a vast percentage of CwaS readers, I'd assume - will have experienced the emotion I'm about to describe. When you're utterly blown away by the first thing you hear by a new band or artist, and desperately cling on to the hope that they'll fulfil that early promise, or at very least maintain the same standard with subsequent output - so much so that you convince yourself that the new material you were so looking forward to isn't a disappointment at all, when, deep down, you're actually not so sure. In fact, if you're honest with yourself, it's not a patch on what you'd fallen in love with in the first place - and when you finally admit this it's an awful feeling. So, in short, 'Worlds Apart' isn't very good. That's not to say it's terrible; it's still OK, but that's not really enough when you know they've got so much more inside them, as evidenced by their recent ULU and ATP live shows, which still packed as much punch as ever.
Their eponymous debut, back in 1998 on Trance Syndicate, the label set up by Butthole Surfers' King Coffey, was staggering; an incendiary, relentless collection that remains their finest hour. The Domino/Merge-released second full-length 'Madonna' took up where that left off, and maybe fell just short, but no more. Then came the big move to the major label - and as much as I can understand why both parties thought it might be a fruitful association, it was pretty much doomed from the start. Third album 'Sources, Tags and Codes' followed, and predictably was their weakest effort to date. So it's fair to say that expectations for 'Worlds Apart' have decreased to the point that news of a new TOD album is more worrying than it is exciting. One suspects that the label are putting pressure on them to deliver, and in trying to do so they've not only failed to come up with anything likely to achieve the mainstream success they're expected to, but they've also lost most of the raw energy that had so much impact in the first place. The irony is that they've already made the record that should have crossed them over - Mistakes and Regrets, the lead single from 'Madonna' - but while they're clearly capable of such moments, there's nothing approaching that standard on here.
At CwaS, we try not to be too critical of releases on indie labels, as frankly they have a hard enough time without the people that are supposed to champion them turning on them. However, I think Interscope can cope with it. It's the band I have sympathy for - time to start from scratch again...