Pack Up the Cats

Artist: Local H

Label: Island Records

Time: 15 tracks/47:49 minutes

For Local H, this album is basically a case of three steps forward, two steps back. While the modern rock duo has managed to achieve a fuller band sound on "Pack Up the Cats," there is a distinct lack of solid, stand-alone songs on the record. The flip side is that the few songs that do stand out are quite good.

With the song "All the Kids Are Right" starting to get some airplay, it seems like Local H is on their way to repeating their past success--and rightfully so, as the aforementioned song is easily the strongest one on the album, a subtle blend of solid guitar pop hooks and singalong chorus. But the band seems lost on this record, seemingly unsure of their musical and lyrical direction. Another noticable difference is the lack of energy that was so apparent and dominant in the last album.

Local H's sound hasn't really progressed all that much either, though there is more of an organic, almost rootsy rock-and-roll sound inherent in the music. The guitar tones are also a bit more distorted and muddled, with a more powerful low-end sound, unlike the more clean and technical tones of the last record.

There are some good songs on this record, like the aforementioned "All the Kids Are Right," the opening track rocker "All-Right (O, Yeah)," the ironically funny "She Hates My Job," and "Fine and Good," which is reminiscent of "As Good As Dead." My copy of this album also contained a bonus disc of dubious value, since it only contained one song, an Areosmith type rocker and bunch of phone messages left on the band's answering machine. Despite some solid songs, this record comes across almost like a maxi-single: one good song and then a bunch of poor ones. Maybe if Local H gets their focus back and puts out a coherent effort they'll be able to rock out like they used to.

By Joe Rockstroh (1/12/99)