Common Era

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After a five-year break between full-length releases, Belong's second album, Common Era, ripped into things right from the get-go with "Come See," as good a blast of My Bloody Valentine overdrive -- Isn't Anything era -- as one could want. The slight downside might be contextual given how many more shoegaze bands have blasted forth since their debut, but there's enough sighing vocals and feedback exultance and more throughout Common Era that if Belong are even more clearly part of a pack now, they're doing a damn good job in it. The echoed drums throughout just as readily suggest the other core touchstone band of the continuing scene -- the Jesus and Mary Chain -- but the sonic violence level almost (if not quite) reaches that of Lovesliescrushing. Combined, it all makes for something of a romp, helped by the sometimes surprisingly clear lyrics, despite all the airy swaths of sound around the vocals. Songs like the dreamily punchy pop of "A Walk" and "Different Heart" and the cascading, descending swirl and sonic moan of "Keep Still" don't reinvent wheels but do serve as good general exercises in the field, lovely, tender, and loud.

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