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COUNTING CROWS

counting_crowsSomewhere Under Wonderland

Capitol/EMI

Counting Crows arrived in the ’90s with a debut album that crossed subcultures and was a staple in most people’s homes. Since that point, other than a song on a soundtrack or a well placed cover, their patchy output has gone relatively unnoticed. The San Franciscan band’s seventh album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, comes six years after their last set of original tunes, yet still mines similar territory.

The band have always had a knack for a catchy chorus, but Palisade Park is as good as any they have put their name to before. It may be because it only appears a handful of times on the eight-minute- plus opener where Adam Duritz scats and offers an almost spoken narrative, but it does offer a great counterpoint in their most experimental tune to date.

Normal transmission is resumed shortly after with Earthquake Driver being the brisk slice of bubblegum that has been the outfit’s staple. With his mop of dreadlocked hair, Duritz still looks like a hobo but sings like a man with a big heart and the weight of the world on his shoulders during the elegant Possibility Days.

Counting Crows make music that is self-absorbed and relatively safe, yet have somehow managed to step above this to make likeable songs. Somewhere Under Wonderland sounds like the band are re-energised and is infectious in its charm.

3.5 stars

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

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