It's a well known that all music trends, regardless of how uncool they are in present tense, eventually resurface. (See "garage rock" in the late '90s.) So you can gamble your life savings on grunge rearing its lank-haired head in a decade or so. Thus, it wouldn't be a surprise to see '90s Brit-pop get all popular again. What's surprising — and mildly amusing — is that the chirpy, Brit-style indie emitting from my speakers after this CD hit the player hails from Sterling Heights.
OK, Almost Free isn't the first band from this side of the Atlantic to have been inspired by Pulp, the Lightning Seeds and E-fueled Madchester bands the Soup Dragons, the Stone Roses and the Charlatans. They're not even the first band from here to do it. Remember Charm Farm? Or the recent Bear Lake? These guys are, however, the best in some time. Trust me; I'm from the land of bad food and worse weather so I should know!
Having said that, Almost Free sounds most like the Killers, presumably because they share many of the same influences. So it's fair to say that Almost Free doesn't bring much new to the table; what the band does have, though, is a barrelful of excellent songs, beautifully constructed and magnificently executed. Garren Stevens' drum work verges on tribal, notably on the fabulous drone of "Lines," while frontman Andy Bird's guitar screams from songs such as "Computer Relations" (a song touching on the subject of electronica-fetishism). More, each chorus here is catchier than the flu, and the production crystal clear.
Modern Mistakes is a good album and the 35 minutes you'll spend listening won't be wasted. Just don't expect anything groundbreaking.
Almost Free plays Saturday, June 6, at the Factory, 334 S. Main St., Rochester.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.