Blue October


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A far cry from the post-breakup mope-fest that was 2011's Any Man America, a glass-half-empty disaster piece that tunelessly chronicled the romantic failures of singer/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld, 2013's Sway, the band's seventh long-player, finds Furstenfeld and the Lone Star State rockers in a (mostly) more agreeable head space, offering up a spacious 13-track set of slick, obvious, dreamy alt rock anthems that celebrate the flipside of heartache. The brief and ethereal "Breathe, It's Over" starts things out on an ambient/orchestral note, providing a nice introduction to the similarly hopeful (and sonically spacious) title cut, which posits passionately, if not a bit brusquely, "We feel high as fuck/And everything is good/Good to go" with a soft yet immediate cadence amidst a nest of chiming, clean electric guitars lines that bring to mind Disintegration-era Cure. Despite being hit by a lightning bolt of hope, Sway's first single "Bleed Out" can’t let go of the past, preferring to revel in the clichés of self-pity ("I gave it all but you can’t stop taking from me") and anger ("Don’t you take this moment away from me") that plagued the band's previous outing -- even the melody sounds cribbed from some other midtempo, radio-ready butane ballad. The band doesn't always fall back on bad habits though, as evidenced by cuts like the pleasant, electro-tinged "Light You Up," the grungy, propulsive, and genuinely fun "Hard Candy," and the elegiac instrumental closer "To Be," resulting in what (at this point) represents their most accessible, immediate, and growth-oriented collection of songs date.

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