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No surprise these sauntering Northern California upstarts have finally ended up on a major, since, with their whole glam-tart approach, it was obvious they were always aiming for the brass ring. Even as far back as their first, self-titled album, amid the murky Joy Division dirges and new-wave clank, a richer and less oblique directive was apparent. This tied in with the whole Strokes/White Stripes-spearheaded "rock revival," but it's important to remember that Vue has been doing it longer than either of them. It's only fitting that they'd end up on the Strokes' label, RCA. Several years ago, RCA tried a similar get-hip maneuver with the Brian Jonestown Massacre (perhaps the prototype retro/"new rock" outfit).

The opener, "She's Sweet," is an anthemic rocker that resounds with '80s dynamics that would rebound off the walls of any arena. The production shows the influence of the major-label budget but still isn't a case of capitulation. "Don't Be Yourself" is the same kind of Stones swagger that they perfected on the previous album. Singer Rex Shelverton has the same arrogant phrasing as Mick Jagger, with some Iggy thrown in.

Vue hasn't totally lost the moody ambient demeanor of the first album. "Prettyshapes" is a forceful, midtempo dirge with a levee-breaking harmonica solo that echoes with ominous Doors dynamics. Same for "Take Two Kisses," which is a bonafide Morrison trance complete with organ.

Onward and upward for these tykes -- Down for Whatever is their best album yet.

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Joe S. Harrington

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