Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mentor Tormentor should help shake some of the Elliott Smith comparisons that pop up in every single assessment of L.A.'s Earlimart. Sadly, the change isn't necessarily a good thing. The unsubtle likeness to the deceased singer-songwriter that characterized 2004's well-received Treble And Tremble has taken a back seat to piano-driven adult contemporary pop with an indie flavor. Mentor Tormentor is an Americanized, more edgy Coldplay for the "cool dad" set. Innocuous, sufficiently pretty balladry ("Answers and Questions") is intermittently offset by energetic rockers ("Everybody Knows Everybody") that will barely remind fans of Earlimart's louder beginnings as a band that used to accomplish reasonable facsimiles of '90s noise-pop. These days, the group creates reasonable facsimiles of utter tedium.


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