Flow

#5

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    5
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Inexplicably titled #5 (it's their sixth album), Flow's 2009 release continues many of the same sounds that previously made the band popular. There are sweeping string arrangements, power chords galore, and the signature trick of the band -- a pair of lead vocals generally working as a duet on the melodic line. The album opens with an alternately crooning and thrashing upbeat piece that could stand as the opening theme to any number of generic anime formats. There's a funky opening to "Heavenly Stars" that ultimately develops into something of a Western punk format -- Bad Religion lite, as it were. The tone slows for a few songs, then moves to a quicker delivery in "Anthem," finally splitting the vocalists apart for all but an Auto-Tunes-laden chorus here and there. The effect is perhaps not much for most bands, but after setting up a series of dual vocal melodies, the split format comes as a welcome surprise. A bit of ska-punk comes in "Akai Siren," and a flawed but interesting bit of North African sound in "Antares." There's an obligatory energetic chanting bit in "Music" (though buoyed by a funkier bassline), and after another generic anime theme, the album closes on a sludgy ballad that works much as the album in miniature -- bits of thrash, bits of strings, Auto-Tunes everywhere throughout the verses, dual vocal melodic lines, and yet nothing really standing out among all the components.