You and I

You and I

by Cut Off Your Hands


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You and I

Put together a bright, breezy guitar pop group with two respected producers and it should be a can't-miss proposition. Unfortunately, Cut Off Your Hands' debut You and I, which was produced by Bernard Butler and Stephen Street (who also mixed), is well-made but, strangely, not as engaging as it should be. The band has an appealing sound, coming off like New Zealand's answer to Maximo Park or Franz Ferdinand (with a touch of the Cure's more upbeat stuff for good measure), and the raw energy of their live shows and early EPs overcame any clichés or obvious influences in their music. The polish Street and Butler bring to You and I reveals just how poppy, and samey, the band's songs can be: it's far from a bad thing that most Cut Off Your Hands' tracks boast huge choruses, but when those choruses feel almost interchangeable from song to song, it's a problem. The album's first half is dominated by tracks that are charming on their own terms -- "Expectations" is refreshingly brash, and "Oh Girl" could be a lost single from some late-'80s new wave band -- but lose their impact as a whole. It's not until the middle of the album, when "Heartbreak" changes from what seems like a typical, strummy acoustic ballad into something stranger with odd backing vocals and keyboards, that You and I gets interesting, albeit not consistently good: "Still Fond" and "Closed Eyes" nail the nervy-yet-sophisticated vibe the first half of the album aimed for, and "Nostalgia" invokes Beach Boys harmonies and a ton of reverb to live up to its wistful name. However, when Cut Off Your Hands try for honest-to-goodness ballads, as on "In the Name of Jesus Christ" and the odd album closer "Someone Like Daniel," they stumble. Even so, You and I's stranger moments reveal that Cut Off Your Hands have more personality than the album's more tasteful songs suggest.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/20/2009
Label: French Kiss
UPC: 0675640912923
catalogNumber: 37

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