Breathe Carolina

Hello Fascination

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On their first album, It's Classy, Not Classic, Breathe Carolina unleashed one of the stranger emo records you're likely to hear. Its blending of cheesy club music and heartfelt pop emo was kind of awkward but also very endearing. The follow-up, Hello Fascination, finds the duo of David Schmitt and Kyle Even heading down the same path, but this time the disparate sounds are much more smoothly integrated and the album makes more sonic sense. It can still be a little jarring to try to absorb a song like "I'm the Type of Person to Take It Personal," which has elements of stadium techno in the thundering synths, disco rhythms, chunky heavy metal power chords, screamo vocals, wispy emo-lite vocals, and a hook that says "POP" in giant letters, but the effort is worth it if you are a fan of pop music that has no socially redeeming values. The rest of the album is just as head-spinning and jam-packed with weirdness, from vocodered vocals straight out of Daft Punk and Europop tunes that sound like a punked-up Roxette to oddly recorded ballads, glam rock backbeats, and giddy video game sounds. It's an approach that sets the band apart from the cookie-cutter hordes of emo pop bands and -- more than that -- it's super fun, good-time pop music. Breathe Carolina may be disposable pop music and Hello Fascination won't top any year-end critics polls, but while it is playing, the goofy lyrics, bubblegum snappy melodies, and overall feeling of joyousness will make you feel good. What could be better than that?

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