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    Stroke 9:

    All In

    Tue, 09 Nov 2004 14:06:26

    Album Reviews: All In by Stroke 9

    With a handful of successful albums under its belt, Stroke 9 isn’t toying with the formula at this point. What started out as a typically thankless indie existence of regular touring in cramped vans all came to a dramatic halt when 1999’s Nasty Little Thoughts produced the MTV and alternative rock hit "Little Black Backpack." Two albums for Universal followed in the next two years, both of which failed to yield another hit, despite the band’s insistence upon mining the same post-grunge territory that gave them their first taste of popularity.

    All In, the band’s first release on Sixthman, marks a shift toward adult-oriented stadium rock, and this album is almost completely free of the early sophomoric appeal that briefly made Stroke 9 an MTV darling (the exception being "Part’e," the album’s final track). Recalling the ambition of 2001’s self-titled LP, All In incorporates electronic flourishes ("Run Away"), strings ("Set You Free"), expanded percussion ("Abandon Confusion"), and hip-hop ("Part’e") in an attempt to create a façade of creativity. Vapid lyrics, seemingly all about relationship problems or being loaded, combined with predictable melodies and comically inhibited aggression don’t add anything to this band’s appeal, but the formula isn’t so much unbearable as it is boring. Stroke 9 just doesn’t have very many relevant ideas. - Cory O'Malley

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