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Machines Are Us

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Scandinavian bands that deal in English lyrics tend to open themselves up to ridicule -- this is especially true if the Scandinavian band in question is primarily concerned with very serious existential topics. Thus it gets a little hard to suppress the giggle reflex when these guys intone lines like "I became a consumer of the needs you created, alienating myself through hell and higher grounds, fascinated by static behavior." In an intentionally goofy pop band, this kind of extended malapropism would be fine, but these guys are not joking -- which makes it that much harder not to giggle. That said, the music itself is mostly lots of good, grimacing fun, with all the standard-issue jackboot rhythms and forebodingly bleepy synthesizer sounds the genre requires. Highlights include the expertly mixed "Shelter," a surprisingly swinging little number jauntily titled "Faith: Not Important," and the darkly compelling "Pursuit." Less compelling is a by-the-numbers genre exercise called "Existence in Progress," but overall this is not bad at all.

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