New York band Robbers on High Street gets a lot of comparison to Spoon (for Robbers drummer-singer Benjamin Trokan's raspy voice and the band's taut rhythms) and the Kinks (for Trokan's smart, detail-rich lyrics) and the Strokes (for...the New York address, maybe?). I think the Robbers sound more like a more listenable version of the Walkmen or a more traditional rock 'n' roll version of Okkervil River. If the Robbers sometimes sound a little too much like other bands...well, they are called the Robbers. The bottom line: They sound great.
After their first album, Tree City, the band went from a quartet to a three-piece, but this year's follow-up, Grand Animals, sounds like a much bigger and better band. The credits list half a dozen guests playing synths, mandolins, archaic keyboards like the Clavinet and the Optigan -- there's even a choir. (A couple of touring members flesh out the sound in concert.) Fortunately, all this doesn't come across like the overkill it could have been -- although at times the vintage keyboards really do hit you over the head with the comparison to the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society. Producer Daniele Luppi, known for his work with Gnarls Barkley and John Legend, keeps things restrained and lovely.
That's important when you've got a song like "Married Young." I wouldn't say it's the best song on the album, but it has one really great line: "We started playing house too soon it seems/ Our Swedish furniture is splintering." You don't want a detail like that to get lost in the mix.
ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET, The Casbah, Wednesday, November 7, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $12.