Wicked Man's Rest

by: Passenger

There are times when English-speaking listeners can't tell whether or not an alternative pop/rock band is British. Bands from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, York, or Newcastle-upon-Tyne don't necessarily sound like they're from England; some British bands sound like they could just as easily be from Seattle or Minneapolis. But other British bands have a distinctly U.K. sensibility; Oasis, Suede, Radiohead, and Coldplay immediately come to mind. And on their debut album, Wicked Man's Rest, Brighton, England's Passenger favor a tuneful, alternative pop/rock approach that is unapologetically British-sounding. It isn't just the melodic and harmonic influence of the Beatles as well as more modern U.K. icons like Coldplay and Radiohead; it's also the lyrics that Passenger's lead singer Mike Rosenberg writes -- lyrics that often have a dry, witty sense of humor that is recognizably British. That isn't to say that Rosenberg goes out of his way to ignore non-British artists; in fact, Passenger's website describes him as "a singer/songwriter reared on Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Van Morrison," which means that he grew up listening to Americans (Dylan), Canadians (Young), and Irishmen (Morrison). But Brit-pop is the dominant influence on clever tracks such as "Night Vision Binoculars," "Four Horses," and "Needle in the Dark"; Wicked Man's Rest falls on the Brit-pop side of alternative pop/rock, and that's a positive thing because Rosenberg is obviously good at what he does. Wicked Man's Rest is mildly inconsistent, but overall, this is a promising and attractive debut from Rosenberg and his colleagues. ~ Alex Henderson

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