World Leader Pretend
"Punches"

(Warner Bros. Records 2005)World Leader Pretend - Punches

The smooth, rich sound of strings seems to add so much to the soft rock World Leader Pretend's album, "Punches," as do the band's carefully crafted pop melodies. The band is in good company with their full orchestral meets rock sound as its popularity, at least among musicians, seems on the rise. Dramatic and strongly instrumental, World Leader Pretend might let you think they are all soft rock, but they certainly have some fire in them.

Piano thunders in the background of songs like the full sounding "Bang Theory" and the softer "Dreamdaddy," creating a multilayered sound that remains light and airy as the music seemingly dances on the clouds. Sleigh bells dominate throughout the album -- the new cowbell, perhaps? -- such as on "Punches" where they jingle gently, blending with finger snaps as the instrumentation builds up and down dramatically before a crashing chorus. Morrissey would surely be proud of song titles like "A Grammarian Stuck In A Medical Drama," where World Leader Pretend opt for a more minimal, low key sound. In an unexpected turn of events, World Leader Pretend bang out some rough punk meets avant garde on "B.A.D.A.B.O.O.M.," as a crowd cheers each letter of the song title and vocalist Keith Ferguson's sneering spoken word verses.

Despite borrowing their name from an R.E.M. song, World Leader Pretend reminds little of Michael Stipe and his cohorts. Gentle lullabies intermingle with songs of pounding instrumentation on "Punches," as World Leader Pretend show their range and still get their point across.

C+

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