We used to be a British colony. We threw 'em out, they got over it, and more than two centuries later, Tony Blair stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Dubya, bragging about the two countries' "special relationship." The U.S. and the U.K. have had a long and productive cultural conversation. Nowhere is this better exemplified than with music: They sent us the Beatles, the Stones, and Bowie, but they couldn't have done it without our proud inventions: jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll. The Brits are restless reinventors of American idiom -- for the best new examples, listen to Dizzee Rascal or the Streets, who've made hip-hop sound indigenous to the housing estates of East London.
But then, every once in a while, a band comes along that breathes new life into the truism that the U.S. and U.K. are two nations divided by a common language. We scratch our heads over why a band like Athlete, say, has caused such heart-racing over there, and the limeys scratch their heads over how we are scratching our heads. Similarly, Athlete's Mercury Prize-nominated debut, Vehicles and Animals, suggests that the group is England's answer to Soul Coughing: In its Britpop-nostalgic way, the music dances merrily along that narrow line between catchy and cute, clever and precious, accomplished and unbelievably annoying. For Anglophiles only, in other words.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.