By Andrew McNally, Columnist
Ting Tings - "Sounds From Nowheresville"
"Take first hit, repeat sound, capitalize" seems to be the theme of the duo's sophomore album. It may have been four years since their smash-hit first album, but that doesn't mean it's any proper length of time to expand or tweak their sound. A majority of the short album feels like the two big hits the band had in 2009, only cheesier and less inspired, and the last three songs are all slow clunkers. They are at least unique from each other, but all suffer from a collective boredom. Sophomore albums can be rough and this is no exception.
Recommended: Vampire Weekend, Lily Allen
Meat Loaf - "Hell In a Handbasket"
Meat Loaf's new album is eclectic -- mixing country, rap, an unexpected Beach Boys cover, and Meat Loaf's pseudo-prog-rock, but never does any of it well. Vocally, his voice just isn't there. His better years saw high-energy songs, but now the songs feel unfinished and under produced. And although lyrically he is still on target, it's far less than enough to boost it up. "Hell In a Handbasket" is the musical equivalent of meatloaf itself: it sits there, looking tepid, begging you to consume it, but ultimately you're just not sure what to do with it.
Recommended: Journey, Genesis
Say Anything - "Anarchy, My Dear"
Max Bemis and friends aimed high for their new record. The emo-pop group claim to have made their most punk album to date. The record struggles under this claim. One song might be an experimentation in songwriting, while the next is a typical, snarky "Say Anything" song. It's all there, but it's inconsistent. The album's true problem is a lack of a punch. It's sometimes more hard-edged than previous works, but it only makes it frustrating when it isn't. It's far too indirect and too well coordinated to be a punk album. But, in the end, "Anarchy, My Dear" will easily please most "Say Anything" fans.
Recommended: Motion City Soundtrack, Panic! At the Disco