Jake Speaks

A band's namesake tells all, sort of.

Now, there are few things as nerve-racking as the first time you pop in your favorite band's reunion disc. There are two things fans fear most: (1) that the album will suck rhinoceros balls, and (2) that it'll suck rhinoceros balls while trying to mimic whatever's popular at the moment. Thankfully, Zeno Beach is every bit as smokin' as one could hope — no rhinos were harmed during the recording. For the most part, Tek's guitar leads and Phillip "Pip" Hoyle's keyboard lines sound straight off Radios Appear. The biggest change is in Rob Younger's vocals, which are more nuanced nowadays. The deadpan, monotone cool of early tracks like "We've Come So Far (To Be Here Today)" and "Connected" give way to softer, more plaintive vocals on songs like "Die Like April" and "Heyday." It'll undoubtedly draw Strokes comparisons, but that's just plain unfair. The Strokes aren't fit to carry these guys' guitars, let alone be compared to 'em. So forget you even read that. Just buy the damned album already and give Radio Birdman its due. Jason Budjinski

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