Contrary to the VH1 version of history, Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid are not some offbeat one-hit wonders. While their singles haven't caught on the way their breakout hit, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," did, every one of their six Proclaimers albums contains tracks just as catchy and literate. Their latest, the elegantly produced Restless Soul, has more than its share of passionate gems. The two best are "When Love Struck You Down," a swooning reminder of love's power for jaded singles, and the title track, a tribute to openheartedness that resonates like some half-remembered favorite song from childhood.
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But if Restless Soul feels like an incomplete meal compared to 1988's brilliant Sunshine on Leith, it's just that it's, well, a little mushy. The Reids write gorgeous, guileless love songs, but they also have an underrated political edge. And in the Proclaimers' two-decade career, the U.S. and U.K. have never been allied in such military controversy as now. Proof that the time is ripe for a Proclaimers political album is found in Restless Soul's only protest song. "D.I.Y." is a political rockabilly tune that trumps recent Steve Earle efforts, along with more callow sloganeering by the likes of Green Day or Against Me!, with this blunt advice for warmongers: "Kill yourself/Demonstrate the power of the product you're trying to sell." Still, you can always do worse than the Reids' brogue-inflected sentimentality.