Record Heat, the latest from Chicago garage-pop brother outfit the O’Malleys, runs all of 25 minutes, with not a note wasted (as per the recipe laid out on previous releases like Well, Well, Well and Sight Of All Light), but one can’t shake the feeling that, with a little more time in the kitchen, Record Heat could’ve gotten to a boil. Stretching the food metaphor, the band – Frankie, Michael and Patrick O’Malley, with non-sibling Patrick Mangan – do indeed deliver meat ‘n’ potatoes guitar pop – “I Would Love To” respectably adds to the pantheon of girl group-indebted garage rockers, and garage guru Jim Diamond leaves his mark via unabashed rockers like “Know It All” and “Erased From History”.
There’s an unmistakable bite to Frankie’s lyrics. At times, Record Heat feels like a piss ‘n’ vinegar concept album about sticking a fork in the haters, as he fumes over a competing suitor on “K.O.” (“He’s got as much to say as a pull-string toy”), and promises “You’re gonna eat your words and pay” on “I Win”. Still, only one track clocks in at north of three minutes (“I Win”) and it’s impossible not to sense that these songs, while hardly half-baked, coulda used a little more meat on their bones. Clearly, the O’Malleys have a template and they’re not deviating from it. In fact, way back in 2008, I praised the five-track, 11-minute Sight of All Light EP, but these guys are too catchy and talented not to grow. It’s a rare occurrence, but call Record Heat not enough of a good thing.
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