New End Original

Thriller

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    5
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On Thriller, a hey-let's-invite-witty-headlines-comparing-us-to-Michael-Jackson ploy of a debut album, New End Original creates fairly unforgivable (though oddly pleasurable) punk-pop, not entirely unlike Soul Asylum. Founded by ex-Texas Is the Reason guitarist Norman Arenas and ex-Far guitarist Jonah Matranga, the quartet drops down 11 tracks of post-college, pre-suburban angst berating the mediocre state of American culture. The only problem is that this album seems to be stuck squarely in the middle of that blandness. Songs such as "Lukewarm" rail against a corruption of idealistic values. The only problem is that the band hardly feels radical in its stance. Stomp boxes are employed as triggers, inviting the listener to feel angst when pressed. The band's overwrought ballads (such as the piano-driven "Leper Song") attempt to push all the buttons as well.

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