Seattle's The Cute Lepers made it abundantly clear with their first album, Can't Stand Modern Music, that they have no interest in contemporary musical trends, opting rather to mine the late-seventies for inspiration. It will come as no surprise then, if I tell you that the band haven't pulled a Dee Dee Ramone and moved into a hip new genre with their latest release, but are instead still stuck firmly in the past.

Adventure Time, the band's third album, is half an hour's worth of uptempo, upbeat songs, which become downright annoying on repeat listens. Of the twelve on offer, I would now only call 'I Can't Do Things' and 'Ambulance Man' enjoyable. "Now"? Does that mean I enjoyed others once? Well, alright, on first blast, some of them were quite fun with their pleasing female harmonies, high energy and the odd catchy hook. However, the album is lacking in two major things: personality and originality.

For a band that claims to be “ankle deep in the dirt of first wave punk” The Cute Lepers have very little discernible danger or attitude to them. Though you can hear the echo of songs from bands like The Buzzcocks (Post Spiral Scratch, unfortunately) and The Only Ones, it all sounds far too over-produced. For instance, the track 'Noisy Song', on which lead singer Steve E. Nix calls for music that 'shakes foundations of cities', is ironically tame and underwhelming. Even when The Lepers throw in a dash of those queens of filth, The New York Dolls, on opener 'Tribute to Charlie' and 'Foxy Society' the piano sounds more tonka than honky tonk and the sax is no way near as sleazy as it should be. Worse still, certain songs, such as 'All Of This Attention is Killing Me', veer uncomfortably close to the twee pop-punk of the nineties.

A bit too much polish could be forgiven if The Cute Lepers were doing something vaguely innovative. However, this style of music has been done so many times before, not least by Steve E. Nix's last band, The Briefs, and The Lepers themselves. The band have refined their sound fractionally since Can't Stand Modern Music, so a lot of the stuff on Adventure Time sounds tired even within their own oeuvre. Even a couple of riffs from 'Some Hits Hurt', a song from their last album, seem to reappear in similar forms on 'Tribute to Charlie' and 'All Of This Attention Is Killing Me'. In the band's defence, I don't think they're trying to start a radical new movement, they're happy simply selling records by playing music that they like. On one level, that's fair enough, but on another it isn't really in the spirit of punk, a movement that aimed to create something entirely new. Music would be a lot poorer if The Ramones and The Pistols had simply been content knocking out second-rate imitations of Beatles' and Beach Boys tracks.

If you're looking for a short lived thrill with a lot of energy, then get ready to bop your socks off. If you're looking for a new genre, a reinvention of punk or even just something that comes close to the seventies source material, expect to be disappointed.

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