Pop music that's densely layered and highly ornamented can work - if it advances the complex or conflicted mood of a song. Too often on Marah's first album in three years, the Brooklyn band let their bells and whistles linger as a distraction. That's especially true on early tracks like "Old Time Tickin' Away," where Marah sound like they're trying too hard to invoke the old '90s Elephant Six psych-folk sound.
Fortunately, brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko (the songwriters at the core of Marah's otherwise ever-changing lineup) take a deep breath at the midpoint of this album. They slow down and give their melodies some space to shine. "Blue but Cool" is a down-tempo soul/blues/rock track that sounds like Elvis Costello getting mellow.
Angels of Destruction might have been a great album if Marah had invoked this vibe from start to finish. Instead, the disc suffers from a divided focus. It's anxious pop colliding with mellow rock in a way that's uneven and unsatisfying.