Underground New Jersey artist Ted Leo/Pharmacists’ fifth release in three years, Shake the Sheets, is looking to break the act into the mainstream. This album should do well with avid rock fans, as it has many factors that make them appealing. It’s a little bit of rock, a little bit of punk, with some melodies, rhythm and lead guitar parts that are vaguely like the Strokes.
Though it should appeal to those who dig good ol’ rock and roll, there really isn’t much to sway anyone who wouldn’t normally try it. There is nothing wonderful or terrible about the album. It has solidly written (though sometimes monotonous) instrumentals, basic lyrical content, and mediocre production quality in which the mid levels are boosted a bit too much, making it sound condensed. There really isn’t much that stands out about the record on the whole.
The best tracks of the piece are two of the last three; the title track and its successor “Bleeding Powers”. They both have better than the rest of the album’s average melodies and drum lines. Leo’s voice is a thin tenor which in the mid to lower regions resonates with some skill but sounds stretched on the higher notes. All in all, Shake the Sheets is a good rock album, but really brings nothing else to the table. If the band is called Pharmacists because Ted Leo wants to supply the cure for ordinary music, he should keep working at it.