The Pretty Dive

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With alternately jangling and ragged guitars, rock hooks, and John Crooke's pipes, which land him smack-dab between Bob Mould and Michael Stipe, Jolene calls to mind the best of mid- to late-'80s alternative rock. That's not to say they sound dated, just that they capture a spirit that dissipated in subsequent years. Jolene was a major-label act a few years before this release but have since taken the D.I.Y. path, and this is the group's second release on their own label. "Genius Genius" and "New Refrain Detritus" are muscular folk-rockers, while "Discoteque" has a guitar sound and ambience that seems drawn straight from the early-'90s U2 songbook. "Shiny Tongue" is straight-up melodic rock infused with whirling, strident guitars, while "Break" is gorgeously emotive and downbeat. This album overall is more overtly electric than 2000's more folky Antic Ocean. On this release, Jolene wields their guitars like weapons and wears their hearts on their sleeves, adding up to a hook-ridden, emotional triumph.

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