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Lion Destroyed the Whole World

Better Looking

Serious cult status for this group on the emo circuit, especially in their home base of San Francisco, so I’m really glad that I liked this 31-minute sprint through 11 sincere melodic punk-pop songs about failed romance. Those fans would probably be able to tell in just about three seconds whether each song was written and sung by Wyatt Cusick or Matthew Troy. Me, I’m just getting to know them — hell, I didn’t even know they’d been gone for five years — so I don’t know about division of labor or who does what. I just like ’em.

For the most part, this isn’t slammingly loud alarming dangerous stuff; the songs gain drama and depth through old-fashioned nonsense like unexpected chord changes and surprising lyrics. The moody “Feet First” opens the record with a couplet calculated to be quoted by reviewers in reviews: “Here comes the hardest part / But I don’t need you / I can break my own heart.” “October/November” sounds like a minor-key cover of “Proud Mary” and features a truly unusual narrative line: a father hoping to get in touch with the son he’s neglected. It’s like “Cat’s in the Cradle,” except it doesn’t suck.

They do, in fact, rock out a couple of times — most notably on “Something To Do,” which lets them use those expensive electric guitars they still had from five years ago. But it’s not as interesting as the next track, “Amy, Tell Me Why,” a really strange thing where a guy tries to convince his girlfriend not to start a band because he’s afraid she won’t be around for him. Now that’s emo.

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