Rating:

* * *

Woah, they're half way there. Woah-oh, they're living on a prayer.

And good on Midnight Youth.

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This debut album sounds impressive with its big, bold and polished production, but in between sounding like Bon Jovi, the shimmering likes of U2, and often the more magnificent and over the top moments of the Killers, they need to start sounding like themselves.

Still, this hasn't stopped the Auckland five-piece being one of the most popular local bands of the year with first single

The Letter

being one of the most played songs on radio and sitting pretty in the singles charts for 15 weeks at the start of the year.

It's easy to see why the song is so appealing, with its aching opening strains, similar to Opshop's

One Day

, that lead into a breezy groove somewhere between the sombre haze of Snow Patrol and a cool Killers jaunt.

It's an accomplished sounding rock record but unlike a band such as Shihad, Midnight Youth don't quite make you believe them - just yet anyway.

There's a second single,

All On Our Own

(also currently riding high in the charts) that's like the Darkness, only with out the spandex, and let's face it the spandex was half the attraction;

Learning To Fall

is one of those beautiful but dreary mid-album stallers; and on

Lonely Homes

, in a neverending quest to be epic, it somehow falls flat.

Also another worrying trend is that

The Brave Don't Run

is cliche central, with everything from Jack and Jill and the Garden of Eden (both in

Dead Flowers

) to being "caged in" and "grass is greener" (both in

All On Our Own

) getting a mention. And the opening track's "money where your mouth is" line is not a good first impression.

However, it's on the psychedelic Latin surf rock of

Tijuana

(yes, it really is all those things) and

Benjamin

, with its combination of woozy storytelling, brass and woodwind, a swampy stomp, and sleazy riffs, where Midnight Youth start to stand out from the rest of the middle of the road rock market.

Scott Kara