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Long-View 

Mercury (Columbia)

Another week, another pale quartet from England looking to sneak into American record buyers' hearts before Coldplay's upcoming album. Manchester's Long-View are well-meaning chaps: Like fellow Manc-rock outfits Doves and Elbow, they've responded to what they no doubt view as a cheapening of musical values -- in the band's bio, singer Rob McVey warns against the dangers of "wearing a leather jacket and pretending to be from New York" -- by making rock about truth and honesty and beauty.

A few times on Mercury, Long-View's debut, McVey and his bandmates hit upon such a combination; it's easy to imagine a group of earnest choirboys piping in to add some majesty to the stately opener, "Further," especially once such a group actually materializes. But the reason Coldplay has made such a huge worldwide impact isn't its piety or the ethical way in which the band does business. It's their willingness to dirty themselves in the open water of pop, to mix it up with Kelly Clarkson fans and provide prom-goers with a comedown from the latest 50 Cent single. Too often, Long-View sounds above that.

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