Ideal Lives moves jauntily with clever hooks and swells, infused with the vivacity that makes post-punk so exciting (and typifies the Frenchkiss roster). But it still sounds like a concept album that wasn't given enough time to fly. The New York trio has high points in spades "10,000 Horses" is an anthem with its terse guitar leaps, and somehow the creepy hooting background vocals work. It's the best singing by bassist Ryan McCoy, who goes pin-up breathy to lesser effect on the tribal, Pixies-style "In the Kitchen." Rahim's regular, more elegant crooner, guitarist Michael Friedrich, has a lighter tone. On "Forever Love," the sweetest ballad a Manhattanite could ever hope for, his acrobatic bend on the word "memory" is what rules the second verse. Still, Ideal Lives takes some unfortunate detours into surf-rock and torrential screaming, and is also stuffed with too much repetition. Refrains are repackaged toward the end of the album, and the musings of "Forever Love" seem to go on, well, forever. This reprising style might've worked on a longer, more proper concept album, where Rahim's scholarly vocabulary could spool out too. (Random word samples: antiquities, impervious, mythologize.) Here, however, it's too affected, and lessens the impact of the band's best assets.
Aug. 22, at the Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668.
Stacey K. Anderson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.