You could approach this self-titled debut by The Shore in a couple different ways.
You could start off by making a snide remark about how, despite all aural evidence to the contrary, The Shore is not Richard Ashcroft’s new post-Verve project but is in fact a LA-based quartet. You could opine that The Shore is yet another album designed for frat boys and hip-hop fans who listen to Coldplay because it makes them feel like they’re challenging their musical horizons.
You could sarcastically speculate about the exact formula that the A&R guy at Maverick was trying to hit on: was it Coldplay x The Verve + George Harrison / Oasis or Radiohead + U2 / New Radicals - Doves? All of this would framed by a general lament on the state of creative stasis in “new rock” and on major labels in general. You could wind things up by asking, “Does a rock band whose sound is every bit as calculated and focused on pervading tastes and trends and manipulated by the record company as the latest pop sensation, deserve any less spite than, say, a Britney Spears or an American Idol?”
You close your eyes, stifle your more elitist tendencies and accept that, while the songs on The Shore could just as well be titled “Platitudes 1-10”, the songs are, in and of themselves, not bad. Not bad at all, actually. You could admit that, while much of the album is samey, it’s a samey-ness that’s generally satisfying and endearing rather than lazy and annoying. While you were at it, you could also confess that “Everything We Are” is a great, uplifting pop track by anyone’s standards, and a great pop track’s always a good thing—especially when it’s played with guitars, bass, and drums—isn’t it?
Come to think of it, there’s something to be said for the concept of a solid rock album. You know: ten songs, a couple chords, honest intentions (at least on the part of the songwriter), no filler. An album that’s not afraid of Big Songs. An album you can play all the way through without being driven to hit “skip”, and maybe even play over again. Hey—those Dylan and Neil Young quotes on “Different Ways” aren’t lame, they’re clever! The Beach Boys harmonies on “It Ain’t Right” have nothing to do with NME baiting; they just sound good!
If you hadn’t already heard those albums by Starsailor, Leaves, the Thrills, Elbow, and the like, perhaps you could get a clearer picture. Or perhaps the presence of all those “sound-alike” bands gives you exactly the picture you need.
You see, with an album like The Shore it’s not so much a matter of “either/or” as it is of “both/and.”
// Notes from the Road
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