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With Battery, Aveo's sophomore record, the band still can come off like fellow overseas Smiths devotees Gene and Idlewild. This is especially the case on driving, bittersweet pop numbers like "Dust That Dreams of Brooms" (which actually sounds like Martin Rossiter fronting Idlewild) and the fey, shimmering "Awkward at the Knees." But where Aveo have developed their own, idiosyncratic vibe (the brooding and more Northwestern "Newton and Galileo") or turned toward the Jam for inspiration ("The Idiot on the Bike" -- which is as great as Ted Leo's "Where Have All the Rudeboys Gone?"), the record seems endlessly promising. Battery is easily a better album than Bridge to the Northern Lights -- it's more thought out, better played, and more accomplished. On songs like "Desert and the Great Divide," Aveo feel incredibly original -- an inspiring mix of pop splendor, melancholy, and driving rock. But when rooted in the sound of their debut, they seem to be backpedalling. In the end, while not the perfect album that Aveo's talent promises, the removal of a couple songs would render the entire thing striking and mesmerizing, and when held to such a high standard, you can't ask for too much more than that.

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