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After a year of releasing a song a month on their website, N.Y.C. quartet Violens could be excused for having nothing left when it came time for their second album. Luckily for fans of the hazy, hooky style of retro-gaze noise pop, they have plenty left in the tank on 2012's True. The album is full of songs that take up residence in your head, reaching far beyond the surface and digging in deep. Their previous album almost had the same effect, but it was more on a song-by-song basis. True works as a whole and creates an unbroken mood and feel that is both nocturnal and strangely uplifting. Credit this to a sonic formula that splits the difference between the epic grandeur of shoegaze bands like Ride and introspective neo-psych bands like the Rain Parade, while adding just enough noise and frenzy to keep anyone from drifting off entirely. The interplay between the guitars and voices is reminiscent of the Church, and so is the amount of reverb that bathes everything in a warm and comforting blanket. It's an incredibly inviting sound that's built from familiar sources but is injected with enough energy and subdued ferocity to make it feel very new and exciting. Along with the impressive sound, the group came up with a very strong batch of songs that fit together like links in a chain but also stand alone. Though a couple songs feel like radio-ready singles with choruses that make the little hairs on your neck stand up ("Totally True," "When to Let Go") and a couple have tempos that would tax a heavy metal drummer (especially the raging "All Night Low"), mostly the album deals in subtler shades of spooky melancholy and wistful emotion. Jorge Elbrecht's vocals are tailor-made for conveying these feelings and the well-crafted and note-perfect arrangements really help the songs stick. That being said, maybe the best song on the album is the last track, "So Hard to See," which takes the shoegaze-psych formula and attaches it to a midtempo, very danceable groove that calls to mind early-'90s Cure and shows just how good Violens can be when they expand their approach just a tiny bit and let some light into the murky gloom. It's a perfect capper to a very impressive album filled with evocative songs and sounds.

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