Review: World Leader Pretend

World Leader Pretend
“Fit For Faded”
(Renaissance Records)

Despite having such a lame name — a song title ripped from R.E.M’s “Green” album — this is a decent first effort for the derivative quartet from New Orleans. Unfortunately the wet blanket groove of the opening track does little to pull you in. They sound like the 21-year-olds that they are, playing college bars in between sets from lousy jam bands. But the lilting second track “The Driving Rain,” which falls smack dab in the middle of Jeff Buckley territory, keeps you interested in what’s next. A pattern seems to be emerging here, because the third track is on par with the weakness of the first track. By the fourth track, though, you’ve found gold in “A Small Thought.” Singer/guitarist/primary songwriter Keith Ferguson shines here on the acoustic ballad that releases the harness on his beautiful croon.

Besides Buckley, he’s also studied Thom Yorke and the Radiohead art of writing soft pop hooks laced with melancholy, as evidenced on “Headlights.” These boys are also impressive for producing and mixing their debut. It’s a clean pop/rock sound, with tinges of experimental digital blips and bleeps. It’s solid work from a promising group.