Remember when Sam Roberts was gonna be Bruce Springsteen? Then the bottom fell out of the straight-ahead rock’n'roll market with the advent of the new prog rock (Arcade Fire, The Dears, Patrick Watson), Sam’s last pair of albums landed with a lack of impact.

This one should go far to restore Sam’s star in the heavens of cool.

Much is made of Collider as a return to roots but it's very rhythm oriented in enough places to beg that question. Also, in recent interviews Sam’s been going on about his deep interest in South and West African music of all genres. that he’d been listening to lately,

I guess the rootsy parts would be the easy peasy wide-screen sprawl, the guitar dominance and Roberts’s organic style of song writing. The new stuff’s in the grooves and the way Roberts is now constructing songs around their rhythm pulse. Dude’s writing groove rock, referencing back when Radiohead were a guitar band. 

It isn’t all changeups though; the fanbasers will drool on ‘Longitude’ whose searing layered guitars bring knives to this tale of a politely imploding relationship. Land of Talk vocalist Elizabeth Powell shows up to elevate the things in a duet with Roberts. And Streets of Heaven’ with its Springsteenian title delivers on that promise with solid rock riding on smacking bass lines.

Strangely enough, the leadoff single "I Feel You" is an anamoly, neither hard driving rock or rhythm groove but a straightup acoustic guitar-driven rock workout, minimal of arrangement and lacking any particualr highlight. Doesn’t sound like a Sam Roberts single round here. Stranger still, it’s a lame representation of what Collider has going on. Something like ‘Twist The Knife’ with its hard guitar lines, slippery bass and disaffected vocal is more like the rest of the package.

Overall, Roberts delivers a strong batch of tunes managing for the most part to balance striking out in new directions without straying too far from the familiar.

James Lizzard