Hello, Control

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Cleveland's Brandtson have built a career on a passionate concoction of guitar-driven, emo-tinged indie rock. However, when their bass player parted ways with the quartet in the summer of 2005, the band did more than just add a new member to its ranks. Embracing the change (and their new bassist's electronic background), the guys entered the songwriting process armed with a new vision for themselves, looking past the standard rock structure of past efforts. Thus, placed among Brandtson's back catalog, the resulting Hello, Control stands out as a significantly different sounding and dance-ready album for late nights and the subsequent early mornings after. The sparse opener, "A Thousand Years," relies on a soft, dreamy landscape with underlying synths, and hints at a slower version of what's to come ahead. Things kick into high gear next with the scene attack of "Nobody Dances Anymore" -- a seriously fun, attitude-fueled dance-punk track complete with vocoder that presumably reveals the primary reason for indulging in the electro, booty-shaking side of things. For every party track, however, there are also relaxing numbers like the spacy "Cold War," "Goodnight Sweet Prince," and the introspective rock of "Parallels." One of the album's best tracks, the breezy, sparkling "Earthquakes & Sharks," is reminiscent of a radio-friendly Modest Mouse and absolutely perfect for a sunny day driving mixtape. Obviously, when a band drastically changes its sound, many fans will be put off on mere principle alone. People get personally attached to their expectations for a band's music, and when those expectations are inevitably challenged by slight experimentation, the response -- and record itself -- is not always pretty. However, after the initial shock of hearing hip-shaking beats, glimmering rhythms, and electro pulses replacing a lot of Brandtson's typical guitar attack, Hello, Control is a satisfying listen with much of the Brandtson of old still very much present and kicking underneath the bright polyester exterior.

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