Bring Us Meat, Thank God for Astronauts' latest effort, is, to be precise, impressively bland. The album (due for release this Saturday, April 21, at the hi-dive) is a mostly mediocre attempt at cutesy-yet-earnestly-indie pop music, and despite sincere comparisons to acts such as the Shins or even Sunny Day Real Estate, it lacks the sheer creative veracity that makes those groups great. The Denver-based foursome, which has been at it for years, has issued a number of laudable releases that better capture its blend of '60s-ish bubblegum and modern alt-rock; this time out, the Astronauts seem to have gotten stuck in orbit. Vocalist/guitarist Kent Phillips croons his best Bono impression, and for more downbeat songs such as "Willie Mays Model" and "Bad Day...Cool World," that works well -- with galvanic results, even. Unfortunately, a couple of standout tracks aren't enough to redeem a whole album's worth of banal sing-along ditties. Meat has heart, for sure -- but where's the beef?
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