If It Weren't for Venetian Blinds It Would Be Curtains for Us All

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The second LP from Massachusetts' emo outfit Piebald is a big step up from their debut, When Life Hands You Lemons. The 13-track effort contains a nice mix of the group's signature tongue-in-cheek humor as well as some slightly more serious topics like political activist Marcus Garvey, but regardless of the ideas represented, nearly every track is offered up in a pop-tinged hard-rocking style that is hard to ignore. Piebald's fondness for the perfect rock groove comes to the surface on this release as they experiment with everything from hard-to-follow time signatures to AC/DC-styled riffs, and the results work surprisingly well. Tracks like "Rules for Mules" and "Location Is Everything" are the some of the band's catchiest offerings, and the record as a whole features more hooks than a Top 40 record station usually has to offer. Lyrically, most of the work on Venetian Blinds also shows major improvement, and while lead singer Travis Shettel's penchant for hackneyed sayings and clich├ęs is not totally out of the picture, he beefs up the content with a number of witty and more original observations. The rest of the group also represents themselves quite well, and the quality of playing as well as the recording itself shows a marked improvement from their previous musical forays. Venetian Blinds captures a band who seem very comfortable with their position in the rock pantheon, and while they don't necessarily break any fascinating new ground, their improved songwriting and presentation give this record a strong personality and some truly memorable musical moments.

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