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Strength In Numbers

The Music

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Album Review

Given the four-year hiatus between Welcome to the North and Strength in Numbers, it's easy to forget that the Music first emerged in 2001 alongside groups like the Strokes, the Vines, and the Libertines. Those three latter bands grew up throughout the mid-2000s, establishing an audience and solidifying their sound over the course of several releases; the Libertines even found time to nosedive into a spectacular crash and disband permanently. The Music, on the other hand, still seem like a young band. The members are physically young, of course — they're barely out of their mid-twenties — but there's also a hunger to Strength in Numbers, a sense that these Leeds-born lads have yet to truly prove themselves. And perhaps they do have a lot to prove, since the lengthy delay between records (during which Robin Harvey battled alcoholism and depression) did some damage to the band's momentum. Strength in Numbers is the Music's attempt to kick-start that old energy and ride it back into the U.K. mainstream.

So, does it work? From a statistics standpoint, yes — the album's title track peaked at number 38 on the U.K. singles chart (although it dropped off entirely after two weeks), while the album itself debuted at number 19. The songs also measure up, by and large, even if the bandmates take a different approach this time around. They've become more indebted to the dancefloor, and songs like "The Last One" and "The Spike" feature enough synthesizer loops and propulsive percussion to give Kasabian a run for their euros. Harvey uses his piercing upper range as a cathartic instrument, howling lines like "Drugs in the hands of a dealer, they're no cure/Drugs in the hands of a doctor, you all want more" like he's trying to banish his vices. His vocals are the band's biggest asset, and the Music shine their brightest during Numbers' loud, bombastic moments, where they sound like the younger siblings of Muse. For those willing to grant the band some leeway — to understand that after a four-year absence, there's going to be some residual rust — Strength in Numbers turns out to be a nice comeback, particularly during the tracks that find that sweet spot between bubbling electronics and stadium Brit-rock.

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Kippax, Leeds, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Brit-pop got a new face in the new millennium, thanks to the burgeoning popularity of new bands like Coldplay and Doves. The Music was a part of that young crowd, taking over the U.K. indie charts by storm during the summer of 2002. Comprised of schoolhood chums Stuart Coleman, Adam Nutter, Robert Harvey, and Phil Jordan, the Music first emerged from the suburbs of Leeds in 1999. They were just teenagers at the time, and the band practiced between studies and dinner time for the following two years....
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Strength In Numbers, The Music
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