Rhythm & Views

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Apparently, Trail of Dead have wholly embraced the widely disseminated notion that their finer days have passed. As a consequence, they have opted to release a couple of uninspired albums that lack any of the ferocity or excitement of their prior work (or volatile live shows).

So Divided is so insipidly tepid and defanged that it makes the hollow clang of Worlds Apart--the first album of the slide--sound downright dangerous. So Divided isn't necessarily a bad album, just a bad Trail of Dead album.

Granted, there are intriguing pop moments, like the Beatles-esque bounce of "Eight Days of Hell" or the tribal propulsion of "Wasted State of Mind." But the loud, aggressive sound Trail of Dead have cultivated their career upon is noticeably absent.

Yet the classic rock strut of "Naked Sun" hits upon the grandeur we've come to love from these Austinites. Plus, it balances the fine mix of juvenile glee and knowing wit that make lines like, "Maybe someday I'll forget / To rise up but it hasn't happened yet," work so effortlessly. Also noteworthy are the group's orchestral cover of Guided by Voices' "Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory," and the chugging title track, which strikes a perfect mix between anthemic glory and reckless abandon.

Ultimately, So Divided proves itself an enjoyable if vacuous listen. The problem is, Trail of Dead seem to value their art too much to settle for the kind of compliment that one would also bestow upon Kenny G's music.

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