On their first two albums, This Is the Story and Sunshine on Leith, the Proclaimers–Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid–essayed a nice blend of folk idealism, melodic smarts, strong voices, and a bit of not-quite-punkish but serviceably defiant small-C Christian attitudinizing. Fans–I was one–pointed to the often high-level political analysis (“Throw the “R’ Away,” for instance, was a pretty sophisticated analysis of linguistic racism) and to the group’s rather lusty take on love as an antidote to their sometimes overweening moralism. But their second album came out more than five years ago, and all that’s been heard of them since is “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” becoming a fluke worldwide hit after it was used in the movie Benny & Joon last summer. Now the boys are back with the disappointing Hit the Highway. There are really no good songs on it–nothing as pleasurable in the pop sense as “500 Miles” or the awesome “Jean.” And lyrically it’s almost entirely uninteresting; the nasty posturing on songs like the title tune or “What Makes You Cry” may be meant to connote distance between the singer and the character in the song, but the pair simply don’t have the skills to pull off such tricks–they just end up sounding, well, nasty. I don’t know if the album’s such a failure because they’ve run out of ideas (though they’ve had half a decade to come up with some new ones) or because of changes in music since we last heard from them. In 1989 they were a quirky, talented band deserving of some mainstream attention. Today we’re up to our keisters in such bands, and more discriminating. But don’t give up on the Reids yet: if nothing else, they can deliver live; I’ve seen them do it. Sunday, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 472-0449 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Greg Allen.