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Bracket start their comeback album with a straight-faced pastiche of "Cabinessence"-era Beach Boys vocals, before moving into a standard-issue pop-punk tune, itself immediately followed by a synth-and-harmonies song seemingly out of the 10cc playbook. And just to add to the disorienting fun, all three songs, like the 14 that follow, are puckishly called "Warren's Song" plus a random number. (Warren, kind of a generic sad-sack character, has shown up in several of Bracket's previous albums; Requiem is kind of like Bracket's far more playful version of the Mountain Goats' Tallahassee, a concept album that ended the saga of the "Alpha couple" that had recurred throughout John Darnielle's earlier records.) For all of that flummery, Requiem is a thoroughly enjoyable pop-punk record with some delightful psychedelic and sunshine pop touches. The northern California quartet recorded this album over the course of two years in their own studio, which gives Requiem a well-constructed shape and sturdily melodic sound that Bracket's earlier and more generically punky albums never managed. By the time the Beach Boys vocal harmonies return at album's end, this time accompanied by a baroque string quartet, the wide-ranging and immensely tuneful Requiem proves that a little ambition never hurts, even in such a proudly juvenile style as modern pop-punk.

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