peaks amid the valleys

Clumsy (Atlantic)

By Kory Wilcoxson

From the car-crash intro to the first song, "As We're Told," there's no mistaking Samiam's approach to their music. They lay it all on the line, expending every ounce of energy they have to make a song work.

Unfortunately, it's a trial-and-error evaluation that the listener must experience along with the band. It's not that any of the tracks are bad; it's just that a few songs shine and the light reflects the mediocrity of the rest of the material.

The winners include the rising and falling "Capsized" and the drunken romance tale of "She's a Part of Me," which features the catchiest hook on the album. In fact, Samiam's hooks and guitar-driven energy sometimes bring to mind the outstanding group Live.

Other songs, however, don't stand up to such comparisons and that's what keeps this from being a better album. As it is, Clumsy does bumble and stumble, but rights itself enough times to make some progress.