While they were gearing up to make Lithium Burn, Deleted Scenes experienced a creative crisis that led to adding new drummer Ricardo Lagomasino and sharing the songwriting duties between Dan Scheuerman, Dominic Campanaro, and Matt Dowling. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- this egalitarian approach, this is one of the band's most personal and cohesive-sounding albums. Their previous efforts, Birdseed Shirt and Young People's Church of the Air, often sounded like playlists of several different bands put on shuffle as they skipped from synth pop to Americana to punk. While their eclecticism never felt like showboating, Lithium Burn proves that Deleted Scenes have more to offer than just style-hopping; all the creative energy that whirled and scattered through their earlier albums is channeled into more direct and vulnerable songs. Instead of reteaming with longtime collaborator L. Skell, the band recruited producers Brian McTear and Jon Low, and their bright, live-sounding work emphasizes the album's more exposed feel. It's no coincidence that Deleted Scenes frontloaded Lithium Burn with contemplative tracks like "Landfall" and "Seasons of the Wire," both of which are oddly reminiscent of R.E.M.; songs such as these and "Caught in the Brights" focus on their thoughtful melodies and lyrics, which are constants in all their work. That said, many of the album's most vital moments occur when the band cranks up the volume, whether it's the brash bookends of "Haircuts/Uniforms" and "You Get to Say Whatever You Want" or lead single "Stutter," which feels like the repository of all of the album's pent-up energy. Here and on the pretty, Dismemberment Plan-esque "Let's Not Try to Fix Everything at Once," Deleted Scenes have never sounded closer to their D.C. roots (even though most of the band had moved away from the city by this point). While a significant part of Birdseed Shirt and Young People's Church of the Air's pleasures came from not knowing what Deleted Scenes would do next, Lithium Burn's relative straightforwardness makes it easy to enjoy these songs for what they are -- and stands as a testament to the growth that comes out of compromise and sacrifice.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares