The Dismemberment Plan

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It's one of the punchier titles around, and happily the Dismemberment Plan live up to it on their full debut album. Carrying over a new version of "Wouldn't You Like to Know" (a track from "Can We Be Mature?," their first single), the Plan -- here with original drummer Steve Cummings -- are a fairly thrash-crazed example of what the term "emo" used to mean. There aren't any apologetic weepouts, just calmer moments amidst pretty explosive performances. The group's debt to the Cure, whom they had covered on the Give Me the Cure benefit/tribute CD, actually surfaces in the more openly tuneful passages -- it's more pop Cure than the angst-y version though, since the young band's own screaming frustration derives from other sources. There are hometown faves like the Rites of Spring, naturally, but one can also catch the intensity of Drive Like Jehu, if slightly smoothed out and made more accessible. Compared to the group's later, more open embrace of different rhythmic approaches and influences, here it's a touch more straightforward -- Cummings by now means a bad drummer, just not as totally impressive and fluid as Joe Easley. Travis Morrison casts around for a variety of vocal guises rather than settling on one, sometimes chatty and relaxed, other times amping up the screams, and at still other times trying for a bit of soul/lounge shtick. It's an odd combination, but still has a certain something, while the overall combination on such winners as "OK Jokes Over," an analysis of a shredded relationship with a great high-speed rush in the music, is pure delight. For all that the quartet is still a straight-up rock band, there's plenty of hints of their future subtlety and sonic joy -- the chimes and handclaps in "Soon to Be Ex Quaker," the stuttering stop-start rumble of "13th and Euclid."

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