Big Strides

The Concorde Fallacy (Toucan Cove Records)
The Muckrakers

By Kory Wilcoxson

"Gravity" is a great song. Actually, it may be the best song ever written. OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole. The Beatles did have a few catchy tunes, and I often find myself humming "Walking on Sunshine" while folding laundry. But "Gravity," one of the songs on the new Muckrakers' album, is right up there.

If you've heard it, you understand that the music of this Louisville-based quartet provokes such superlatives. Their latest studio album, The Concorde Fallacy , is a continuation of their excellence, improving upon 2003's Front of the Parade by maintaining the same level of pop perfection while adding a depth and richness that gives the album an amazing emotional wholeness.

Rob Carpenter, who resembles a scruffy Zachary Quinto (the enigmatic Sylar from "Heroes"), has the superpower of remarkable singing, able to hypnotize any listener into crooning along. If songs like "Gravity" and "Kerouac" are the CDs tapping toes, then "Paris to New York" is its beating heart, with a somber Ben Folds-like piano riff and searching lyrics. The song is so achingly beautiful it's more art than music.

It would be easy for the rest of the album to be overshadowed by such standouts, but each song holds its own, thanks to the chemistry of Carpenter, guitarist Micah Gerdis, drummer David Kidd and bassist Brian Meurer. They work naturally together, as instrument and voice blend into a unified sound full of emotional synergy. These guys are in sync (in the good music-making way, not in the bad boy-band way).

The themes of doubt and loss run through songs like "Beautiful Goodbye" and "Believe," but not in a fatalistic way. It's as if the band is desperately seeking to find something beyond the cruel realities life capriciously offers. On "Seventh Sign," a song with a flowing spiritual undercurrent, Carpenter sings, "Silence is golden, take your time/when everything is broken you turn the page on what you've learned and leave the rest behind."

The Concorde Fallacy represents a significant step forward for a band already taking big strides.

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