A Week in July

Near Fatal Explosion

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In a 2002 interview, Chris Lee -- lead singer of New Orleans' AC/DC-ish, '70s-minded, retro-hard rock/retro-metal band Supagroup -- asked the following rhetorical question: when did everyone get to be so introspective? Lee was commenting on the evolution of rock lyrics and the fact that so much alterna-rock of the '90s and 2000s had been ultra-introspective and serious-minded -- a major contrast to the hedonistic sex/decadence/party time themes that AC/DC, Kiss, Aerosmith, and Van Halen were known for back in the day. From Alanis Morissette to Creed to Green Day, introspection has been a huge part of post-'80s alterna-rock -- and there is no shortage of it on this debut album by the Pittsburgh-based A Week in July. Near Fatal Explosion is a long way from party music; this alternative pop/rock disc thrives on introspection and often does so in a melancholy way. Musically, Near Fatal Explosion operates from a punk-pop aesthetic, and the material is melodic yet driving and aggressive. But while A Week in July has been influenced by power pop, their lyrics are hardly escapist. Examining his emotions and reflecting on the ups and downs of romantic relationships, lead singer Matt Jurcevich doesn't give Near Fatal Explosion a terribly rosy outlook -- loneliness and disappointment are prominent themes on this 2003 release. A Week in July's material isn't groundbreaking or terribly distinctive; in the early 2000s, there were countless other bands offering a similar blend of amplified punk-pop melodies and emotion-bearing lyrics. Nonetheless, the songs have an appealing earnestness, and this is a competent and likable -- if derivative and mildly uneven -- debut for the Pittsburgh combo.

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