Ted Leo: Shake the Sheets

By Kelly Johnson

Oh, you don’t want to rock?

Ted Leo doesn’t care.

On “Shake the Sheets,” Leo grabs you in a headlock and rarely lets up in the album’s 40 minutes. More stripped-down than his previous releases, Leo gets back to the raw basics with less complex riffs, relying heavily on the standard power-pop format.

Although less ambitious, Leo still shows us his ability to write shiny pop gems with “The Angel’s Share” and “Little Dawn.” At first listen, it’s less memorable than his previous works, but after a few spins, you will find yourself craving his addictive melodies.

Fans of Leo will be surprised to find his voice relatively tame on this album. His characteristic yowls make a few appearances, but overall he sticks with a more familiar range.

The second half of the album drags slightly around “Better Dead Than Lead.” Leo delves into a little too familiar territory with more run-of-the-mill guitar riffs, and you find yourself waiting for the big payoff. However, the first half of the album is more than enough to satisfy.

Leo hasn’t regressed on this album, however, he isn’t breaking any new ground. He simply wants to rock, and few have proven better qualified to do so.