The Summer Set

Love Like This

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The Summer Set's five members had barely graduated high school when they released their major-label debut, and Love Like This sounds appropriately swamped in an adolescent world of hookups, puppy love, and the magnetic pull of the weekend. Most of the songwriting duties are handled by the bandmates themselves -- guest producers Sam Hollander and Dave Katz (better known as S*A*M & Sluggo) are the only outside contributors to receive a byline -- and the music combines emo-pop and alternative rock with zippy, energetic results. Frontman Brian Dales' lyrics are too crude for their own good, though, and his snot-nosed approach almost always falls flat: "Love Like This," the album's peppy title track, aims to be a love song despite its content ("I've waited all my life for a bitch like this" goes the chorus), while "The Boys You Do (Get Back at You)" details the singer's plan to extract revenge on his ex by sleeping with her friends. Sex runs rampant throughout the album, and it's always treated with all the reverence of the football captain gleefully telling his teammates about the head cheerleader's bedroom. There are some supersized choruses here, but it's hard to enjoy the band's happy-go-lucky melodies after you dig beneath the surface, and Love Like This sounds hollow as a result.

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