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The Payola Reserve

One Long Apology

(self-released)

From the bland soft-rocker that opens it to the bland ballad that closes it, One Long Apology certainly doesn’t lack in consistency. Unfortunately, it lacks in most other qualities, offering up 10 largely anonymous tracks that sound closer to adult contemporary than the Shins, Wilco, or other bands cited in press material. “Brave New Radio” introduces a bit of new-wave zest, but when singer Ben Pranger implores us to “let me be the first one to drown” after moaning, “take me down to the river” far too many times on “Storm’s Gonna Come,” we’re all too agreeable to the suggestion. A failed attempt at clever wordplay on “Seasick on Shore Leave” results in a T.S. Eliot reference seemingly plucked out of “Desolation Row” and an either inadvertent or ill-advised Lemony Snicket allusion elsewhere. Bands like this serve mostly to remind us that dull radio stalwarts like Rob Thomas and the Goo Goo Dolls actually have some craftsmanship behind their product, however one feels about said tunes. When the Byrds said to “just get an electric guitar and learn how to play”? That was sarcasm, people.

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