While listening to Kick Up the Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose, the second album from British up-and-comers the Cooper Temple Clause, I couldn’t help but adopt the persona of a desperate high school coach. “Come on, guys, look alive,” I’d say. “Put some energy into it!” The band’s potential is such that they’re capable of recording great things, but, like the star quarterback who would rather drink vodka than practice, they’re stuck at a relatively low level of achievement.

The group’s six members play a variety of instruments, thankfully eschewing the threadbare guitar/drums/bass setup that is so prevalent among current rock outfits. Unfortunately, the ample musical creativity on the album is drowned out by monotonous, ridiculously loud guitar riffs. The lead single, “Promises Promises,” is a major culprit; what could have been a unique track is bludgeoned to within an inch of its life by a seemingly endless volley of power chords.

Unlike so many of today’s rock albums, Kick Up the Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose isn’t pushed into the realm of complete unlistenability by its harsh post-grunge production, but it comes dangerously close. The Cooper Temple Clause could, with a certain degree of refinement, put out intelligent, creative music. Instead, they’re catering to those who do that odd, herky-jerky dancing at indie rock shows. Here we have a capable band that does not aim any higher than to please fans whose enjoyment is predicated solely on the music’s volume. How frustrating for the thinking listener.

[Colin Marshall, when not reviewing music, moonlights as a desperate high school coach.]