Last Days of April

Ascend to the Stars

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With a '60s jangle that would suit the Anniversary, Sweden's Last Days of April abandons their hardcore roots for a gentle pop sensibility that recalls the Kings of Convenience and Turin Brakes. Ascend to the Stars' opening track, "Angel Youth," crunches like Bends-era Radiohead, and the gurgling electronic arrangement on "Piano" begins like an optimistic OK Computer. Only "Playerin" seems to resort to punk rock momentum, and that song is excellent nonetheless. The more you listen to it, the more Ascend to the Stars sounds like the quiet, alternate-universe follow-up to The Bends. It's not the most strikingly original album of 2002, but it is certainly one of the most emotionally rewarding.

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