Dead Letter Circus

This Is the Warning

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Though tagged an alternative rock band, Dead Letter Circus actually get close to post-rock on their debut full-length, and even if it was not a conscious decision, it's a good sign. The band starts off by going for that angsty but catchy brand of rock developed by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, adding a dash of the U2 adaptation that Angels and Airwaves promised to revolutionize music with, and didn't -- but the youthful earnestness is channeled into arrangements rather than histrionics here (though the music is still quite emotive). Delay-based guitar textures are interlaced with subtle synth undercurrents, creating complex patterns out of a set of simple rhythms without cutting down on melody, and the whole thing is executed with a surgical precision that recalls the incarnation of Krautrock promoted by Maserati -- while the sheer intensity brings to mind God Is an Astronaut more than My Chemical Romance. The record isn't comprised of instrumentals, but the vocals do serve, rather, as an additional instrument, blending into the mix without overshadowing it, and anyway, more important is that while typical mainstream rock relies on catchy riffs and hooks, This Is the Warning is mostly a wall of sound -- also catchy, but too elaborate to hum in the shower. The record could still use more irony, and it's easy to single out individual pop elements the band uses to build up its sweeping drive, but at least this is a highly evolved sort of pop with aspirations going far beyond the usual 15 minutes of fame.

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