Lives of the Saints

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Beezus' Breakfast Was Weird was a solid debut, but Lives of the Saints is nevertheless a major leap forward -- not only are the group's songs consistently stronger, but their music also possesses a new sense of immediacy and spitfire aggression. The deft wordplay of the opening "Keeper" -- a blistering attack against marital subjugation and the society which fosters it -- immediately sets the record's tone, with anger and frustration tempered by moments of desperation and sadness; standouts like "I'll Call You Blue," "Buttercup" and "Note You'll Never See" disguise the harsh sentiments of their lyrics with infectious pop melodies, exploiting the tension inbetween to stunning effect. The undeniable highlight, however, is ironically a cover: the brilliant "Rebel Girl," which fuses the traditional Joe Hill folk tune with the latter-day Bikini Kill anthem -- a masterstroke of grrrl-punk polemics.

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