Sunrise Avenue

Popgasm

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    7
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Sunrise Avenue were labeled a boy band after their debut, which was unfair, since they were actually a quality power pop unit, but the pigeonholing still fed fears of a sophomore slump. However, the boys themselves obviously didn't care, picking up with Popgasm right where their first album left off and never really changing direction through the whole ride -- which is a smart move, as it offers another nice helping of the band's already trademark catchy guitar pop with big guitars. Their arena rock roots are more visible this time, but there's also the classic Finnish gloom and, perhaps most importantly, the ultra-melodic Nordic hooks first unleashed upon the world by a-ha. The influences go in line, rather than hand in hand -- sunny Gin Blossoms tunes give way to kitschy emo in the vein of Tokio Hotel and honest to God pop camouflaged by a big riff or two -- but the procession is natural, strung together by the band's energetic delivery and Samu Haber's vocals, still chock-full of his low-key charisma: the man sounds like he's hiding a trickster smile, but that makes his emotive lines even sweeter. Granted, the album is not very commanding, especially in the faster tunes, which rely too much on sheer intensity and simple melodies, but never approach the genuine, irritating addictiveness of previous hits like "Fairytale Gone Bad"; the slower tunes, like "Welcome to My Life" and the upbeat string-only "6-0," could've actually stolen the show, because their arrangements are given more space and thought, but they are too few and far between. Still, while at this point Sunrise Avenue might perhaps fear a "third album slump," Popgasm is a neat treat, if not the gigantic burst of joy promised by its title.

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