City Sleeps may have evolved from a no-luck nu-metal band called Smugface, but their music aims for somewhat loftier artistic heights with its debt to melodic alt rock, pop-punk, new wave, and even the unhinged grandeur of Queen. At least that's what their deceptively dull-named, chorused intro bit, "Hotel," seems to aim for (along with closing guitar symphony "Check Out"), but between the band comes back down to earth, and, once there, they roll out punchy, accessible power pop of varying aesthetic allegiances. Some tracks boast mish-mashing sing-along choruses as immediate as those on a Goo Goo Dolls record (see "Prototype," "Walker's Ridge"), others commercial art rock à la Incubus ("Ordinary High"), and others still, modern techno-punk (the title track, "Be a Man"). A few forgettable offerings ("I Can't Make You Love Me," "Bones") don't do enough damage to ruin the party for everyone, but listeners with extra long (and obviously tormented) memories will marvel at "Andrea," which sounds like the second coming of the Outfield! Nevertheless, and no matter how many tricks City Sleeps pilfer from the '80s (at least they tend to pilfer them astutely), there's no resisting a meticulously assembled homage to new wave like "Just Another Day," with skittering guitar notes simultaneously reminiscent of the Police, U2, and Duran Duran, if you can imagine that. And ultimately, what distinguishes City Sleeps from so many of their late-'00s contemporaries are songs with well-constructed hooks instead of emotionally hysterical pathos (yes, we're looking at you emo kids over there, sulking in the corner).
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia