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The Who
Endless Wire
Universal Republic Records

The Who's latest album Endless Wire has a way with a verse seeping of vintage '70s rock intonations and modern melodic fissures. It's been twenty-five years since The Who's last studio album. With the passing of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, remaining members Roger Daltrey (lead vocals) and Pete Townshend (guitar) were reunited at last year's Live 8 concert. Whatever molecules transpired between the two, it kindled a need in Daltrey and Townshend to return to the studio as The Who.

Endless Wire is the culmination of their experiences while apart, the musical influences that impacted them and the present day events which affected them. It is known that artists are inspired by the world around them and Endless Wire is a reflection of present day affairs which The Who brings to its music. Townshend imports a Celtic lilt on his guitar accents contouring the melodic processions on "Mike Post Theme" and "Two Thousand Years." The hoarse vocals of Daltrey still possess an enthusiastic ram and still rally a rock anthem spirit with "Pick Up The Peace" and "We Got A Hit." His gravelly vocal textures give the songs a high powered punch, while Townshend takes the lead vocals on numbers like "God Speaks To Marty Robbins." "Triliby's Piano," and "They Made My Dream Come True" glinting a fairytale glaze. The sparse acoustic guitar arpeggios on "God Speaks To Marty Robbins" have a heavenly Latin lift. Twenty-five years ago, Townshend's guitar work would have never been described as heavenly - you have to wonder what this world has done to him.

There are light synth effects plumping the melodic passages on "Fragments" and "Fragments Of Fragments." Yokes of delicate keyboard bridges corrugate the folds on "In The Ether" and "Unholy Trinity." There are acoustic folk sessions like "Man In A Purple Dress," "You Stand By Me," and "Tea And Theater," counterbalanced by heavy rock rhythms, fluxing vibrations, and very physical vocal propulsions in selections like "Mirror Door" and "Sound Round." The guitar segments dip into country abodes on "Out On The Endless Wire," while modern rock resins hammer down "It's Not Enough" and vintage guitar wavelets and choruses of The Who plaque "Black Widow Eyes." With 19 songs on the album, Daltrey and Townshend expose facets of themselves that have never been shown in The Who's catalog before.

Endless Wire has contemporary chambers along classic Who vestments. The movements are nimble and Daltrey's vocals are still puncturing. Live shows are being set up in North America and Europe with additional musicians for the tour that will include drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son), guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete's brother), bassist Pino Palladino, and keyboardist John Bundrick. Some of the songs from Endless Wire will also be featured in a mini opera inspired from Townshend's novella The Boy Who Heard Music. Where other bands have failed to move on from their past, The Who's new album is music that can fit into people's present day lives. As artists, they portray the present with reflections from the past and their eyes focused on what they can do now.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Fragments
2. Man In A Purple Dress
3. Mike Post Theme
4. In The Ether
5. Black Widow Eyes
6. Two Thousand Years
7. God Speaks To Marty Robbins
8. It's Not Enough
9. You Stand By Me
10. Sound Round
11. Pick Up The Peace
12. Unholy Trinity
13. Triliby's Piano
14. Out On The Endless Wire
15. Fragments Of Fragments
16. We Got A Hit
17. They Made My Dream Come True
18. Mirror Door
19. Tea And Theater

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