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Album Review

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, 'III/IV'

December 13, 2010

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This double disc set of leftovers from the sessions that would eventually spawn 2007’s sublime “Easy Tiger’’ comes courtesy of Adams’s own label Pax Am. As is often the case with double albums, “III/IV’’ could easily be whittled down to a single excellent disc, but instead offers two pretty good ones. This being the chameleonic and shape-shifting Adams, the moods and sounds run the gamut from laid-back roots-rock to insistent power-pop to flirtations with metal guitars. There is plenty of vintage Adams to be had here, from the bratty, garage rocker “Stop Playing With My Heart’’ to the giddy bounce of “Star Wars,’’ which ponders the age-old question of whether it’s too much to ask for that perfect someone to put up with all of our crap. Fun boy-girl harmonies and lyrics with snap, bite, and humor abound. (A favorite from the cathartic caterwauler “Sewers at the Bottom of the Wishing Well’’: “My heart isn’t black/ it’s just dirty from the floor.’’) There are also more than a handful of ho-hum basic rockers that, while sporting decent hooks, don’t make a lasting impression. (Out tomorrow)

SARAH RODMAN

ESSENTIAL “Sewers at the Bottom of the Wishing Well’’