The Who

Endless Wire
(Universal Republic)

Pete Townshend's clearly playing to the school of thought that says Who's Next is better than The Who Sell Out here. And it goes beyond the way he "re-investigates" the oscillating synth riff of "Baba O'Riley" in the first few seconds of The Who's first album in 24 years. This is Serious Music for Serious People — rock as art, like damn near everything he's done since all the hype surrounding Tommy guaranteed he'd never write another line as brilliant as "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth." And that's before he started finding inspiration in The Passion of the Christ. There's no sign of the loopy genius he flashed in Quick One at work in this year's bloated mini-opera. And even when he has poor Roger Daltrey celebrating Mike Post TV themes or making God a Marty Robbins fan, the mood is deadly serious. The only laughs are unintentional. The only kicks are scissor kicks. And even those are by the numbers. Mojo magazine praised this album as the best they've done since Quadrophenia. But what's that really saying? That it's better than Who Are You? Who Cares?

 
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