The Ones That Got Away

Like the White Stripes and the Strokes of this year, The Tyranny of Distance sounds like all the history of rock and roll, condensed and spit-shined into something raucous and livelier than ever. The hooks are crystal clear, the beats are booty-guaranteed, and the songs are rich with both tradition and ingenuity. Originally a punk himself, Leo leans here more towards the punchy power-pop of early Elvis Costello. Big Star and The Clash are also reference points, but Leo's oomph is too exhilarating to give a moment to sort it all out. Songs like "Squeaky Fingers" sound like you've known them forever, even as they surprise with every kick and clap. The songwriting is so good that the progressive forces at play slip by almost unnoticed--"Stove By A Whale" and "St. John the Divine" take turns into dark sonics with muscular guitar drives, without losing the momentum of higher moments. Leo's a veteran of the music scene and the album's craft shows it--still, it bursts with the spontaneity that comes only out of left field. The Tyranny of Distance should be considered up there with Is This It? and The New Pornographers' Mass Romantic in 2001's standing triumph of the power of pop. --Greg Bloom


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