THE AVETT BROTHERS Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions (Ramseur)

This third full length from North Carolina trio The Avett Brothers is an oddly schizophrenic album. On the one hand, they mount a loud, raucous assault on country, folk and bluegrass mores, all howled vocals and unapologetically manhandled instruments. At times, for example on “Matrimony” all this aggression gets channelled to useful effect. More often, though, the results are more like the curious “Talk On Indolence”, which could almost be The Presidents Of The United States Of America, or “Pretty Girl From Feltre”, whose closing freak out seems indulgent rather than earned. On the other hand, in places the veneer of irony wears so thin as to be practically non-existent, and it’s then, on “Famous Flower Of Manhattan”, the sparse childhood reminiscences of “Sixteen In July”, or “Pretend Love”, which is practically in the neighbourhood of conventional country music, that the album is at its most engaging. Still, it’s not enough to justify the procession of roughly recorded demos hidden at the album’s end, which succeed only in making an already lengthy album 15 more minutes longer than it needs to be.