Sam Roberts - Collider 

Meandering Montreal rocker Sam Roberts' dad rock aches with in-denial loss

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Sam Roberts - Collider
Rounder/Universal

"Honey, don't point that gun at me, you know I only want to be your friend," meandering Montreal rocker Sam Roberts drawls. His reading of that calculatedly dramatic line gives a hint to what's so off and disappointing about his latest record, Collider: Shooting for the invitingly casual populist disaffection of Tom Petty, he sounds merely like an overtired former icon, dangling uncomfortably between anonymous hard rock and bland singer-songwriterisms.

This identity crisis is desperately at odds with the sometimes intriguing blend of propulsion and sadness here, something the overwrought single "I Feel You" fails to suggest. Much of the emotional depth is buried on the bouncier cuts; listen hard for the tinge of depression hidden in "Twist the Knife" or the drunken pathos of "Let It In." During such highlights, Collider sounds like what might happen if the Strokes survived to late middle age and vented their frustration with a kind of dad rock that ached with in-denial loss, which is a not an unattractive premise. If Roberts didn't spend so much time scrambling to please a too-broad demographic, perhaps he could get somewhere with it.

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