When The Presidents of the United States of America broke big last year, the band served as sort of a refreshingly disposable novelty diversion, with lots of giddily brainless singles ("Lump," "Peaches," "Kitty") and boundless energy. As a whole, the album from whence those songs came wore thin quickly, but it was a guilty pleasure at times. Of course, radio saturation rendered the singles maddeningly unlistenable in short order, and that ultimately tampers with the potential appeal of the appropriately titled II: Does it sound flat and uninspired because the band's bag of tricks is empty, or because our capacity to enjoy it has been extracted by that damned "Peaches" song? It may be a little bit of both. II doesn't even begin to gather momentum until it's half over, largely because songs like "Twig" are inexplicably slow-paced: Even likely future singles like "Bug City" are mixed too thin, and delivered without the over-the-top urgency they'd need to connect with an audience. (The album's second half—which includes the longtime live favorite "Supermodel"—is vastly superior to its first, but by then the damage is done.) No one asks The Presidents of the United States of America to be anything but funny, fast and stupid, but the band rarely connects here.

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