Sure, performers should have ambition; otherwise, mediocrity would reign unchecked. But if this characteristic is blended with rampant egomania, the results can be particularly embarrassing -- as they are on the Machines' latest.
In essence, Road is a stopgap EP, designed to capitalize on goodwill generated by the act's full-length debut, 2004's Now Here Is Nowhere. That's a recipe for filler, represented here by the title cut, which appears on Nowhere; "Better Bring Your Friends," a passable original; and an effective cover of Harmonia's "De Luxe (Immer Wieder)." Unfortunately, the remainder of the platter finds these guys measuring themselves against pop-music greats, and they come up wanting. Their rendition of "Astral Weeks," among Van Morrison's most personal airs, is relentlessly clueless; a pass through "Money (That's What I Want)" doesn't even measure up to the Flying Lizards' satirical take; and the version of Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country" could hardly be more pretentious, or less revelatory.
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The Machines would have been better off keeping their delusions of grandeur a secret.