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Mle

Mle: Devils and AngelsDevils and Angels (2007)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 2.5


Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
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The first time I encountered Mlée, it came via the Hopelessly Devoted to You Vol. 5 comp, featuring the tracks "New Day" and "Francesca." I thought it was the most refreshing thing I'd heard in years. A few months later, I saw them open for Motion City Soundtrack and thought it was the most pathetic attempt at trendy indie rock I'd ever seen. For the most part, Devils and Angels falls right in between the two extremes.

For some reason I feel like I should start by pointing out that this band thanks "Tom and MySpace" in their liner notes, but for now I'll look past the minutia. The biggest problem with Devils and Angels is self-evident in its promotional write-up: "Influenced by the songwriting classicism of piano men Elton John, Coldplay's Chris Martin, and neo-soul star John Legend, Mlée present their own style of carefully crafted melodic pop on Devils & Angels, the quartet's debut album for Warner Bros. Records, which will be released on April 3rd. The songs, which range from driving pop-rock anthems to uplifting power ballads, are characterized by solid hooks, lilting melodies, and frontman Chris Cron's soaring vocals and expressive piano-playing." That's right, instead of the gooey post-punk of their Hopeless debut Everyday Behavior, they've resorted to what the radio industry would call "soft rock."

While it's true the album isn't entirely of acoustic guitars and pianos, it certainly doesn't lean heavily in any other direction. In fact, the first track and subsequent single "Built to Last" is a fairly accurate microcosm for the album as a whole. Cron's vocals, the wistful melodies crafted, and hopeless romantic lyricism stand out as highlights, while the compositions and instrumentation are noticeably toned down throughout. Save for the upbeat "Frequently Baby (She's a Teenage Maniac") -- which astonishingly blends a determinedly `80s melody with boppin' Golden Age rock & roll and introduced through a post-punk frame -- there's no musical teeth on Devils and Angels. Bland song after bland song, "Love Carries On" after "Can't Hold On," the second half finally gets a bolt of energy with the acoustic pop-punk of "Biggest Mistake" and group shouts of "Oh! Oh no! She's my biggest mistake." However, by the next track, Mlée are doing their best Maroon 5 impression on "You Got" and singing "You got what I'm looking for / I got what you came here for / You got what I need."

You really can't call this a bad album because it's just so damn mediocre. There are some incredibly catchy songs, even among those that seem made more for sleeping than rocking. And like all Sub City bands, portions of the proceeds go to a good cause, in this case Orangewood Pals and their work with abused and neglected children. So like some of the better tracks on Devils and Angels, props are given where they're due, but it's still clear Mlée can do better.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
VictorIkpeba24 (January 26, 2008)

The name of this band sounds rather bad in French.

skaboom (January 23, 2008)

I'll echo what other people here have said:

Everyday Behavior was great. I don't usually get into that brand of power-pop, but the album was so damn well crafted, any open minded punk fan could get into it.

This one, meh.

tenwestchaser (January 23, 2008)

Every Day Behavior certainly was awesome. Last year my roomate was playing this and I started making fun of him and about shit when he told me it was the new Melee. Lame.

cheesetits (January 22, 2008)

The title of this record brought to mind the game Disgaea for PS2. Such a good game....so, who's Melee?

Hey_Asshole (January 22, 2008)

ehhhhh

Branden (January 22, 2008)

that cover art reminds me of the juliana theory major label debut or whatever. i guess spiritually these bands are the same thing; bad indie to worse major.

Problematiclogic (January 22, 2008)

Yeah, I though Everyday Behavior was great, but this is just so deliberately radio friendly and cheesy it doesn't compare.

These guys are good musicians and make some interesting music but it doesn't show here.

thus_spoke_sean (January 22, 2008)

man Scott, you are all about pointing out the one good song each of this weeks bands have done!

Adlai_E_Stevenson (January 22, 2008)

This album and people's money.

Holy_Balls (January 22, 2008)

Name two things that don't mix: This band and people with dicks.

maverick (January 22, 2008)

Their piano-only version of "The War" off that In Honor cancer-benefit comp Vagrant put out in 2004 is phe-fucking-nomenal. Everything else, I could care less about, but wow, is that song fantastic.

-Scott

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