The Last


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If you wanted a history of power pop in one lesson, you could do worse than put on Awakening. The album starts out with two classics -- the Byrds-like blast of "No Love" and the punk-pop gem of "Assembly Line" -- and moves through nine more tracks of upbeat melodic brilliance. Joe Nolte was on an incredible songwriting streak here, and of those first 11 songs only the discordant thrasher "Tired" is disposable. The band rips through these tunes with remarkable precision, creating a hook-fest of chiming guitars, urgent keyboard fills, and thundering rhythms. The title song shows that when they want to, this group can create a beautiful, delicate soundscape based on a keyboard lead, which is hardly what the Last is best-known for. The last two songs are throwaway covers of '60s hits which are energetic but otherwise uninspired. It's rather mysterious that they're included at all. When you have a songwriter like Joe Nolte right there, why would you need to play the likes of "She Loves You" or "Baby, It's You"? Regardless, this album is a classic of L.A. punk-pop and is indispensable for any Last fan.

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