If it’s possible for a band to channel the spirit of Bruce Springsteen’s anthemic odes to forgotten working-class dudes — and do so with a singer who’s got the Boss’s clenched-chest, Darkness on the Edge of Town delivery — without sounding derivative as hell, well, Marah pulled it off on their previous album, Kids in Philly (E Squared/Artemis). This time around, they actually got the working-class rocker out of his mansion on the hill to do a guest cameo (vocals and guitar) on, duh, the first single. Yet somewhere between Philly and the wilds of Wales, where Float Away with the Friday Night Gods was recorded, singer-guitarists David and Serge Bielanko (along with drummer Jon Kois and bassist Jamie Mahon) lost a lot of that Springsteen luggage they’d been toting around.
Instead, with a very British producer by the name of Owen Morris (the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony and Oasis’s Definitely Maybe are two of his more noteworthy credits) encouraging the boys to pile on the guitars, keyboards, percussion, and even a full male vocal choir in what you might call his slicked-up version of the Specter wall of sound, Marah have turned out what sounds like an American answer to an Oasis album. You could even be excused for mistaking that first single, "Fly Away," for the latest model to roll out of Brother Gallagher’s hit factory, in spite of Springsteen’s cameo. After all, Brother Liam clenches his voice too, and the barrage of melodic guitars is pure Oasis, as is open-ended free verse (i.e., nonsense lyrics) like "I’d float away down the whispering way/Somewhere as far as it seems, boy/I’m proud to say that I feel far away/So shame on remembering me, boy." But any band who can navigate the same desolate streets that Springsteen did without finishing in a four-car pile-up clearly have a strong sense of themselves. And though Morris does take most of the Springsteen out of Marah, he leaves them with the gritty hooks and emotional power that made Kids in Philly so addictive, and with that ineffable sensibility that makes a Marah song sound like a Marah song and nothing else.