Don Piper; Seth McLain; Britt Myers; Rudyard Lee Cullers; Anton Riehl; Chris Decocco; Matt Bridges; Seth McLain
Daniele Luppi; Daniele Luppi
New Line Records
Number of Discs
40m : 59s
Album Notes and Credits
Robbers on High Street: Morgan King (bass guitar); Steven Mercado, Benjamin Trokan.
Personnel: Benjamin Trokan (vocals, keyboards, drums, percussion); Steven Mercado (guitar, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Done Piper (mandolin); Morgan King (French horn, trombone, tuba); Daniele Luppi (Clavinet, tubular bells); Matt Trowbridge (Wurlitzer organ); Seth McLain (hand claps).
Additional personnel: Daniele Luppi (bells); Anton Riehl (programming); Olivia S. Dhaliwal, Emma F. Smith, Tracy Eisenberg (background vocals); The Famous Letters Men's Choir, Fowzy Butt, Nadir Naqvi, Matt Trowbridge, Done Piper, Tim McCarthy, Seth McLain.
Audio Mixer: Jeff Peters.
Recording information: Between The Trains; Great City Productions; Sonora Recorders; Stratosphere Sound; Water Music.
Photographer: Mike Vorrasi.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Benjamin Trokan; Tim McCarthy.
While New York's Robbers on High Street gained a lot of comparisons to the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand after the release of their first full-length, Tree City, it is Spoon that they turn to for their sophomore album. Not that hints of this didn't exist before, but it's amplified even more greatly here, and most of the tracks on Grand Animals sound as if they were borrowed directly from the Austin band's discarded sketches. Because while lead singer Benjamin Trokan has a voice and delivery style very reminiscent of Spoon's frontman, his words aren't quite up to par with those of Britt Daniel, who's able to tell intimate, interesting stories without sounding clich?d or forced. Not that Trokan's lyrics are bad, but they don't compare to Daniel's in the slightest, either trying too hard to be like him ("The Fatalist" and "Crown Victory" both sound like they were written after spending a lot of time with Gimme Fiction), or just plain mediocre ("The Ramp," "You Don't Stand a Chance"). Perhaps if they were put more often to compositions that weren't ripped directly from the Spoon songbook the lyrics wouldn't come across as weak (and the times where the band does take an alternate musical route, like in "Guard at Your Heel" and "Your Phantom Walks the Rail," they work well), but because of their musical choices, Robbers on High Street make that comparison inevitable, and therefore they must also face the consequences of having shown themselves so unmistakably as a lesser band. Yes, there are horns, yes there are string-sounding keyboards and plenty of falsetto (resembling Spacehog's frontman Royston Langdon, strangely enough) to try to set them apart, and it all sounds fine, but it's not more than bits and pieces of other people's work reassembled into something vaguely new, and at this point in their career, Robbers on High Street need to better attempt settling into a style of their own. ~ Marisa Brown
Spin (p.106) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[With] subtle orchestrations whose airy ambience hints at the chameleon funk of David Bowie and the dance-floor minimalism of early B-52's."
Alternative Press (p.170) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "'Guard At Your Heel' sounds like a smoky Tom Waits number, while 'Your Phantom Walks The Hall' is nouveau pop-meets-luau."
CMJ (p.45) - "[T]he Robbers elaborate on their pop throwbacks by blending assertive lyrics with balladeering instrumentation for a big and funky final product."