Dropkick the Robot

Two Feet
(self-released)

Dan Mehrmann leads Dropkick the Robot through eleven tracks that vary from straight-ahead Britpop-inspired rock & roll to hazy, more ethereal explorations. Mehrmann's voice can handle the upper octaves with a warbled, Jeff Buckley-esque grace (particularly on the radio-ready "Don't Let it Run You Over"), but he also emits an intimate warmth during Two Feet's more hushed moments. As a band, Dropkick the Robot is adept at swapping styles and setting moods; the musicianship is versatile and competent but never showy, which is always a threat when you gather five versatile, competent musicians.

The glitchy beats and unmoored keyboard notes of "Washed Up" recall Kid A-era Radiohead, with Mehrmann's disaffected delivery during the verses giving rise to a more rock-centric chorus. The title track comes next, and its loping waltz beat and wax-cylinder-era orchestration suggests a marriage between Jon Brion's antique instrumentation and Andrew Bird's intentionally blasé delivery; it's a left turn, but it is also one of the album's most fully realized moments. The rock action picks up on the second half of the disc, with "Lockjaw Alibi" offering a simple, potent rush of streamlined garage rock, complete with distorted, reverb-heavy vocals and an unleashed lead guitar. The stylistic hopscotch makes it impossible to pin one sound or descriptor on Two Feet, but Dropkick the Robot has proven adept at playing melodic, compelling songs no matter the subgenre.

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