Restart by Day

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OK, this is not really maturing, but Restart definitely got better on their second record. Mellowed out, too -- they follow the opening punk-pop ditty with three slow romantic songs in a row before lapsing into a rock frenzy again, and no one bats an eyelid. The influences are more or less the same -- blink-182 and mall emo of the sunnier variety (almost like Dashboard Confessional on three espressos, and thrice as straightforward) for the speedy, riff-based songs, and just about anyone who ever wrote a ballad for the acoustic fare. This is as generic as they come, but with Restart it's the feature, not a bug -- like all good pop music, they're not about expanding musical boundaries, they're about using what other people created to crank out catchy hits. The juvenile naïveté with which they rip off their influences helps in this case -- too much pop sounds jaded and smirking, but Restart come across as genuinely sincere (it may not be the case, but they sound that way). Most important, however, is the songwriting -- it's just good. Softies like "Recomenzar" and "Te Llevo Conmigo" are plain touching, and even if everyone's heard them before on other albums by different bands, it's because they just can't sound any other way. The rock tunes, meanwhile, don't try to camouflage hook impotence with textures and whatnot like so many bands out there, and they sport memorable guitar licks, some worthy of more accomplished compatriots Hori. It's still thin ice that Restart are walking on -- a couple of tunes near the end of the record lack steam -- but on the whole, By Day is the opposite of a sophomore slump.

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