The Like Young

So Serious

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Now this is more like it. The Like Young's first album, Art Contest, was a slab of formulaic punk-pop bereft of inspiration and hooks. Their second album, So Serious, makes no radical changes but is about 100 percent better and less cute, more real. This time out, they paid attention to the small things that make records interesting -- like arrangements, pacing, dynamics, and (most of all) hooks. Joe and Amanda seem to have gotten the tuneless anger out of their systems and loosened things up a bit. Sure, there is still a level of aggression that was never to be found in their earlier band Wolfie, but it is leavened by liberal use of Amanda's sweet backup vocals and by the introduction of more instruments (cheap synths, bass, and lead guitar) that keep things varied. They also make fine use of the quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic that has served every band from Weezer to the Kinks so well. The mention of Weezer is no accident, since the Like Young are direct sonic descendants of that band. On the brief (12 tracks, 24 minutes) So Serious, the group begins to live up to its legacy. Some of the songs, like the peppy "Out to Get Me," the slow and sexy "Don't Know When to Stop," and the frantic "Be a Sinner," wouldn't sound out of place on a Weezer album, which is not to say that they are Weezer Jr. Don't get that idea from the comparison. It's more that they both are lyrically imaginative and vocally powerful indie rock bands that share a sonic palette. Let's just say that if you like Weezer, you will like this album. And even if you don't like Weezer but are a fan of spiky, inspired punk with a pop sensibility, you will like this.

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