North of America

These Songs Are Cursed

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North of America is one of those solidly rock bands that one might be tempted to toss beneath the "emo" tag -- and, yes, in between the pure rock bombast, the heavy touches of Pavement (particularly vocally), the notable resemblance to the Swirlies (minus effects and electronics), and the general aesthetic of Guided by Voices, there's a tiny bit of conventionally emo material coming through. These Songs Are Cursed, however, seems to get past all of these reference points -- it's simply a compelling and loveable rock album, moving through dynamic, fractured aggression and then settling nicely into grand melodic sweeps. It's also tempting to say that excellent albums like this are the continuing tradition of indie rock, in a time period during which that vein of music has become rather splintered, but it's simpler to content oneself with a solid and thoroughly satisfying record like this one.