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DaveyBoy's Top 40 Albums Of 2011

So here it is... A little later than usual, but that was only to build up anticipation... 2011's top 40 albums as decided by my good self. I actually went into the year with the hope that none of my top 25 albums submitted for the year-end staff list would come with a 3.5 rating. As it turned out, there was no issue at all, with a strong year in music resulting in me finding a grand total of 34 albums that I rated a 4 or higher. Unfortunately, nothing earned a 5, but there were four albums which I eventually granted the prestigious 4.5 rating to.
In Light

Not renowned for indie-pop, Louisiana has produced an extremely promising talent for the genre in Lafayette's Givers. Their debut LP 'In Light' takes you on a trip around the musical world, with subtle Cajun & funk influences differentiating the band from the pack. With all 5 members being multi-instrumentalists & a brilliant boy/girl vocal dynamic, an expansive array of sounds & influences are apparent. Creative & experimental without sacrificing accessibility, 'In Light' is without filler & begs for repeated listens to explore its numerous layers, rhythms & melodies. Recommended Tracks: Meantime, Up Up Up, Atlantic, Noche Nada & Ceiling of Plankton.
2Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

After putting the "rock" back in indie-rock, Manchester Orchestra return in majestic fashion on 'Simple Math'. An even fuller sound is evident here, with intricately layered arrangements being complemented by a strings ensemble & occasional horns. Both within songs & between them, the balance of vulnerable intimacy & tense power is expertly crafted, with Andy Hull's intensely captivating vocals begging to be crooned, & then screamed, along to. With only the closer approaching filler, this is another superb & consistent release from this prolific & evolving Atlantan quintet. Recommended Tracks: Mighty, Simple Math, Virgin, Pale Black Eye & Pensacola.
3Florence and the Machine

Bringing along her soaring, ethereal voice, flame-haired Florence Welch leads her Machine back for their 2nd LP 'Ceremonials'. Unapologetically more sumptuous & grandiose than its captivating predecessor, the usual cavalcade of instruments & fantastic rhythms are once more evident. More cohesive than 'Lungs', Paul Epworth's huge-sounding production initially muffles diversity & lacks restraint, but 'Ceremonials' turns out to be a real grower. It is ultimately a winner too, due to its bewitching nature, stirring highlights, rousing climaxes & alluring vocals. Recommended Tracks: What The Water Gave Me, Shake It Out, Spectrum, No Light No Light & Heartlines.
4The Jezabels

Far from rehashing their 3 superb EPs, Aussie quartet The Jezabels use the long-play format to fully explore the boundaries of their sound on debut LP 'Prisoner'. The eye-opening organ & synths of the opener, the catchy melodcism of lead single 'Endless Summer' & the cinematic 'Long Highway' propel this captivating album to great heights. With all 4 members working double-time to compose near flawless music, 'Prisoner' is the rarity of a debut LP adding to an already superlative discography. The Jezabels are just getting started & the sky may be their only limit. Recommended Tracks: Endless Summer, City Girl, Horsehead, Deep Wide Ocean & Prisoner.
5Rise Against

Continuing towards a more accessible sound, Rise Against deliver their 6th LP 'Endgame'. With incisive lyrics, Tim McIlrath tackles subjects such as nuclear radiation, the BP oil spill, the Gulf war & homophobic bullying. While those looking for a return to a raw punk sound will be disappointed, 'Endgame' is less mid-tempo than its predecessor & comes with one of the best rhythm sections going around. As fiery, passionate & motivated as ever, the Chicago quartet successfully consolidate on their rare ability of integrating a punk rock aesthetic with a more mainstream rock appeal. Recommended Tracks: Architects, Survivor Guilt, Satellite & Help Is on the Way.

It is great when an artist notes the flaws on their debut LP & markedly improves 2nd time around. That's exactly what young Grammy award winner Adele has done on '21', an album which again showcases her breathtaking voice. Despite a slight lull in the middle, '21' culls the filler & delivers 11 break-up songs that are immediate, without sounding over-produced. Book-ended by its 2 highlights; the gospel-tinged catchiness of its lead single & the absolutely gorgeous closing piano ballad, '21' proves that talent ultimately wins out over hype. Recommended Tracks: Someone Like You, Rolling in the Deep, Lovesong & Set Fire to the Rain.
7Deaf Havana
Fools And Worthless Liars

With the loss of screamer Ryan Mellor, English outfit Deaf Havana adjust their sound to melodic alt-rock on 2nd LP 'Fools and Worthless Liars'. The now quartet do not miss a step & actually improve however with James Veck-Gilodi's captivating vocals taking center stage. Better yet are his mature lyrical themes, which are not only infinitely quotable, but also honest, personal & extremely relatable. From the surprisingly proficient acoustic opener through to the sing-along anthemic rockers, this album has huge crossover potential & comes with practically no filler. Recommended Tracks: I Will Try, Little White Lies, I'm A Bore Mostly & Hunstanton Pier.
8The Joy Formidable
The Big Roar

'The Big Roar' is an apt title for the debut LP from The Joy Formidable. Like a history lesson in alt-rock, this takes in genres such as shoegaze & grunge, as fuzzy, distorted guitars produce a loud wall of noise. The secret ingredient are some killer melodies that incorporate an anthemic arena-rock aesthetic. Ambitious, mature & confident, 'The Big Roar' may be a little front-loaded & overlong, but is a winner from start to finish. And while 4 older tracks have been reworked, the extended coda of 'Whirring' now makes it a song of the year contender! Recommended Tracks: Whirring, Cradle, I Don't Want to See You Like This & The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie.
9Foo Fighters
Wasting Light

Re-hiring 3rd guitarist Pat Smear & recording on analogue equipment may sound like gimmicks, but are ultimately the catalysts for an exciting Foo Fighters reinvention on their 7th LP 'Wasting Light'. From the explosive opener to the intense closer, this Butch Vig produced album is raw, loud, energetic & filled with fantastic riffs. While containing a genuinely aggressive edge, it still includes The Fooeys trademark shout-along anthems, making this their most consistent LP yet. As detailed as it is simple, 'Wasting Light' showcases a band totally in sync with each other. Basically, this ROCKS! Recommended Tracks: Bridge Burning, Arlandria, Walk & Rope.
10The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)

Taking a break from their 6 'Act' series, The Dear Hunter tackle an even more ambitious concept with 'The Color Spectrum'. Comprising 9 EPs that represent various colors, this 36 track collection is passionately & impeccably crafted. Remarkably cohesive considering the diverse array of music on show, this innovative release contains little filler. From the heavy early stages through to the pop, folk & electronic experiments, the spectrum ends with the band's past (Violet) & future (White). Patience is required, but this rewarding & incredible achievement is as enjoyable as it is memorable. Recommended Tracks: Deny It All, Home, Too Late & Misplaced Devotion.
11City and Colour
Little Hell

With Alexisonfire on the brink of collapse, Dallas Green's side-project City and Colour continues to evolve, with 3rd LP 'Little Hell' expanding to a fuller, more band-oriented sound. In truth, this grower of an album lacks the catchiness of previous efforts & leans a little too much towards country music. However, that is more than made up for by the quality of the songwriting, with the often self-depracating Green delivering his most personal, heartfelt & poignant lyrics yet. And then there is that voice, which quite simply is the best going around bar none! Recommended Tracks: The Grand Optimist, Fragile Bird, Little Hell & Hope For Now.
Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

While WU LYF's over-hyped debut LP 'Go Tell Fire to the Mountain' verges on displaying a conventional indie-rock sound, the Manchester quartet deliver one of the most musically impressive releases of the year. Ambitiously crafted & self-produced in a church; gorgeous guitar melodies & a superb rhythm section are accentuated by the effective use of church organ. Most divisive will be the unintelligible vocals from Ellery Roberts, which work best on the more celebratory tracks. It's a touch overlong & gets a bit repetitive, but this is ultimately an absorbing & exciting debut. Recommended Tracks: We Bros, L Y F, Dirt & Spitting Blood.
No Devolucion

Thursday's 6th album 'No Devolucion' is more a natural progression, than a departure. On their 3rd successive LP produced by Dave Fridmann, the New Jersey sextet are as assured as ever in cohesively balancing their post-hardcore roots with a liking of atmospheric soundscapes. While Tucker Rule's drumming stands out, the textured instrumentation is superb throughout & Thursday have never been more impressive lyrically with a number of quotable lines. Not everything works, but that's hardly surprising considering the ambitious experimentation here. Recommended Tracks: Stay True, Turnpike Divides, Sparks Against the Sun & Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart.
14Balance And Composure

After 3 fabulous EPs, the long-awaited debut LP from Balance and Composure does not disappoint. From the dark, atmospheric opener to the gang-vocal heavy closer, 'Separation' is another exercise in captivating, emotion-packed intensity. While Brian McTiernan's streamlined production has its issues, this cohesive album is a natural progression and real grower. Displaying the quintet's usual quiet/loud dynamics, climactic build-ups, deceptive melodies & passionate dual vocals, 'Separation' is an exhausting but rewarding listen from an ambitious band that promises to record a future classic. Recommended Tracks: More To Me, Quake, I Tore You Apart & Patience.
15Mayday Parade
Mayday Parade

Using every device imaginable, Floridian quintet Mayday Parade attempt to re-create their much-loved debut on their self-titled 3rd LP. The highlight opener alone carries piano, strings, a catchy chorus, a "woh woh" filled bridge, lovelorn vocals & a gang chant outro! Later, guitar solos, dueling vocals & a near-epic closer also satisfy, with the LP being remarkably cohesive for all of its ingredients. Without filler, musically accomplished & containing improved song-craft & vocals, 'Mayday Parade' is ultimately a crowd-pleasing winner. Recommended Tracks: Oh Well Oh Well, Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven't Ended Yet, Priceless & Call Me Hopeless But Not Romantic.
16The Swellers
Good For Me

While punk rockers The Swellers naturally evolve in a more accessible direction, the Michigan quartet continue their rich, detailed & blue-collar storytelling on 4th LP 'Good For Me'. Atop superb production, glorious guitar lines compliment the accomplished rhythm section, as Nick Diener sincerely sings his heart out. Where The Swellers truly excel however, is in their meticulously detailed & articulate songwriting, where each minuscule nuance lends an engaging sense of either connection or believability. Ultimately, 'Good For Me' is a strong, heartfelt & consistent punk-rock album. Recommended Tracks: The Best I Ever Had, Runaways, Inside My Head & Better Things.
Everyone I Ever Met

Following their accessible post-rock debut, Manchester quintet Spokes return with a bolder outlook on 'Everyone I Ever Met'. While many post-rock traits are evident, there is a notable indie-rock vibe integrated into the impressively crafted arrangements. Furthermore, vocals (including female & group) have become integral to the band's make-up, giving the LP a multi-dimensional feel. There are quieter stages, toe-tapping climactic rock-outs & pleasingly more awe-inspiring violin melodies. It lulls near the end, but this is still a cohesive, versatile & excellent album. Recommended Tracks: Torn Up In Praise, 3 4 5, We Can Make It Out & Everyone I Ever Met.
The Valley

While there is still room for improvement, Texan quintet Eisley continue to steadily improve, delivering their best LP yet with 'The Valley'. The alluring 3 way vocal harmonies are better than ever, helping to produce a personal & vulnerable set of tunes. The assorted emotions of the DuPree family reveals the band's evolving songwriting, and it is inspiringly optimistic considering the subject matter. While 'The Valley' is Eisley's most varied & consistent record yet, it is the care & heart which has been put into it, that takes it to the next level. Hallelujah! Recommended Tracks: Better Love, Smarter, Please & Watch It Die.
There Is A Way

Playing a wildly chaotic & exuberantly loose amalgam of indie-pop & post-hardcore, unique Scottish sextet Dananananaykroyd deliver their 2nd LP 'There Is A Way'. The band's trademark dual vocals, some screaming & plenty of irresistibly hooky & deceptively harmonic sing-alongs return, while musically there is a more muscular sound evident courtesy of the dual guitar attack. Some genre mish-mashing will undoubtedly be divisive, but Dananananaykroyd's deft combination of the frenetic & melodic, has resulted in a more focused, assured & cohesive release 2nd time around. Recommended Tracks: Muscle Memory, Reboot, Seven Days Late & E Numbers.
20Go Radio
Lucky Street

Following on from 2 promising EPs, Floridian quartet Go Radio release their much-anticipated debut LP 'Lucky Street'. Spearheaded by ex Mayday Parade vocalist Jason Lancaster, distinctive vocals & clever lyrics are a highlight, with the front-man at his best when scathingly directing his words towards a target. With the consistently tight music rarely taking center stage, 'Lucky Street' relies on the sincerity & passion with which Lancaster articulates his stories. It all adds up to a consistent release with sufficient variety that makes for a real grower. Recommended Tracks: Forever My Father, Any Other Heart, Fight Fight & Strength To Stay.
We Do What We Want

Coming off the back of Emery's best album to date, the post-hardcore outfit have not allowed success to get to their heads on 5th LP 'We Do What We Want'. For every crash, bang & wallop, there are beautiful, soothing & melodic passages which are successfully integrated in a manner that is simultaneously well-crafted & spontaneous. The polarizing tracks of it's latter half will ultimately become this LP's barometer, but Emery have done a good job of making 'We Do What We Want' sound unlike any of their previous releases, yet containing components of all of them. Recommended Tracks: The Curse of Perfect Days, You Wanted It, The Cheval Glass & I Never Got to See the West Coast.
22Funeral Party
The Golden Age Of Knowhere

"I know that it's all been done before, it will all be done again". Never has such a lyric been more relevant than on 'The Golden Age Of Knowhere', the debut LP from Californian dance-punk quartet Funeral Party. A consistent, immediate, enthusiastic, likeable & catchy release, this is definitely not the most innovative album, but is just so so darn fun to listen to! From the energetically raucous opener to the funky disco bass grooves of its successor, the youthfully exuberant energy makes it difficult for one to not get caught up in this LPs celebratory nature. Recommended Tracks: New York City Moves to the Sound of L.A., Finale, Giant Song & Car Wars.
23The Weeknd
House of Balloons

Emerging from nowhere full of hype, The Weeknd - young Toronto singer Abel Tesfaye - has delivered an amazingly assured debut LP. At 1st glance, 'House Of Balloons' seems like most other R&B releases, only slower & more electronic. Dig deeper & it reveals itself as a cohesive concept album where the usual genre themes of sex, drugs & troubled relationships are ingeniously given a raw, melancholic & disturbing outlook, both in words & mood. Slow-burning & a little overlong, the superb mid-section highlights this expertly produced & maturely sung LP, that is both captivating & powerful. Recommended Tracks: The Morning, Wicked Games, Coming Down & House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls.

While it never delivers a knockout punch over its 49 minute duration, Thrice's 8th LP 'Major/Minor' is extremely consistent & cohesive. All members of the Californian quartet are remarkably accomplished with the Breckenridge brothers proving a sturdy rhythm section, and Teppei Teranishi laying down numerous glorious guitar lines. All the while, Dustin Kensrues's vocals are as captivating as ever, with his lyrics helping to provide excellent replay value. Grungy & groovy, this is a natural progression from predecessor 'Beggars' & a solid-as-a-rock release without filler. Recommended Tracks: Promises, Yellow Belly, Call It In The Air & Listen Through Me.
25Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver

For his 2nd LP, Justin Vernon does not attempt to replicate the raw, stripped down sound of breakthrough 'For Emma, Forever Ago' & instead turns Bon Iver into a fully-fledged group. A fuller sound is evident here, not only courtesy of a backing band, but also a number of guest musicians. Drums, piano, electric guitars, horns, strings & synth all result in greater variety, without necessarily abandoning the beauty & emotion which Vernon's falsetto brings. While the ever-cryptic lyrics & surprising 80's influence confuse, it is more than made up for by the intricately arranged music & gorgeous melodies. Recommended Tracks: Holocene, Perth, Towers & Calgary.
26Twin Atlantic

Not only do Twin Atlantic sound like Biffy Clyro, but now they face the same backlash as their fellow Scot rockers, since 'Free' dials down the unique quirkiness of their superb prior release 'Vivarium'. Such refinement sees the Glasgow quartet produce some anthemic choruses that are destined for arena sing-alongs, with Sam McTrusty's distinctively thick accent leading the way. Gil Norton's wall of noise production could use a little more subtlety & it's a tad overlong, but 'Free' is ultimately a consistent LP whose diversity plays out on subsequent listens. Recommended Tracks: Free, Time For You to Stand Up, Edit Me & The Ghost of Eddie.
27The Black Keys
El Camino

El Camino - the 7th LP from blues-rock duo The Black Keys - is their leanest album yet, with its pop sensibilities also making it their most accessible. Co-produced by Danger Mouse, its raw, driving rock'n'roll sound is consistently upbeat & fun. Filled with hip-shaking hooks galore, variety is enhanced through diverse instrumentation which lends from genres as assorted as soul, reggae, blues & even glam-rock. The lyrics may often be inconsequential & it's not exactly their most innovative record, but above all, 'El Camino' is crowd-pleasingly enjoyable & without filler. Recommended Tracks: Lonely Boy, Nova Baby, Gold on the Ceiling & Run Right Back.
28The Getaway Plan

After disbanding in 2009, Melbourne rockers The Getaway Plan reform for their 2nd LP 'Requiem'. For the most part, it is a continuation of the sound the quartet established on breakthrough debut 'Other Voices, Other Rooms', yet this album utilizes a significantly more dramatic approach. Produced by Canadian David Bottrill, it often sounds huge, with keys, choirs & orchestral flourishes augmenting Matthew Wright's ever-improving vocals. While its methodically paced latter half means it is not quite as immediate as its predecessor, 'Requiem' is ultimately the better release. Recommended Tracks: S.T.A.R.S, Phantoms, February & The Reckoning.
29The Dangerous Summer
War Paint

Natural growth & sensible refinement is the wise approach taken by Maryland quartet The Dangerous Summer on their 2nd LP 'War Paint'. Guitars play more of a prominent role here than on their debut, while slicker production is also apparent. However, the major improvement comes via some extremely mature song-writing, with 'War Paint' challenging to be the most lyrically impressive album of 2011, since numerous passages will strike a chord with listeners. Almost too consistent, the imperfections of this LP are - in a sense - exciting for the future of this talented band. Recommended Tracks: Miscommunication, Work In Progress, Waves & War Paint.
30Hey Rosetta!

On their 3rd LP 'Seeds', St. Johns sextet Hey Rosetta! continue to refine their brand of orchestral indie-rock, resulting in their most immediate, consistent & accessible release yet. As usual, heartfelt vocals, eloquent lyrics & impressive bass-lines are meticulously weaved into layered arrangements. But the Canadians seem more assured here, with the harder edge in their sound ultimately resulting in more variety than their unpredictable previous albums. While 'Seeds' may be front-loaded, it nicely balances joyous fun & contemplative maturity to produce an LP that should appeal to many. Recommended Tracks: Seeds, New Sum, Young Glass & Yer Spring.
31Fair To Midland
Arrows and Anchors

4 years after the excellent 'Fables From a Mayfly', Texan alt-metal outfit Fair To Midland return with their 4th LP 'Arrows and Anchors'. Not as immediate as its predecessor, this album is more of a grower, with most tracks being deceptively catchy. As always, this offbeat, unpredictable & ambitious quintet attempt to incorporate all kinds of genres, while the lyrics are the usual weird metaphors. Probably the heaviest release since their debut, it is also the least reliant on distinctive lead vocalist Darroh Sudderth. Its main issues however are some excess filler & overlength. Recommended Tracks: Musical Chairs, Short-Haired Tornado, Coppertank Island & Uh-Oh.
32Marianas Trench
Ever After

Marianas Trench deliver another theatrical & diverse concept album on their 3rd LP 'Ever After'. Straying from their earlier pop-punk style to more of a pop-rock feel, the Canadian quartet allow synths to play as large a role as guitars here. Retaining the catchiness of previous releases, Josh Ramsay's versatile vocal range is once more ably backed by the band's trademark harmonies. Yet, 'Ever After' occasionally verges on being too slick for its own good, with over-length also not helping matters. Still, the song-writing talent & ambition is there for all to see on this maturing grower. Recommended Tracks: Fallout, Haven't Had Enough, By Now & Stutter.
33Funeral For A Friend
Welcome Home Armageddon

Funeral For A Friend hit back hard & recall the energy & vigor of their much-loved debut on 5th LP 'Welcome Home Armageddon'. With 2 new band members, the Welsh quintet sound almost complete here, as they switch pace & genres with skill & uniformity. In addition to welcoming back Ryan Richards? screams, Kris Coombs-Roberts has been belatedly let loose, resulting in one of the best guitar albums of 2011. A technically proficient & well-crafted release, this is as much a step forward for FFAF, as it is a reacquainting themselves with their past. Recommended Tracks: Aftertaste, Damned If You Do Dead If You Don't, Medicated & Front Row Seats to the End of the World.
Until We Have Faces

Reaching #2 on the U.S charts, 'Until We Have Faces', the 3rd LP from Nashville quartet Red, is their most accessible yet. Leaning toward mainstream rock, the band finds their sweet spot, delivering another catchy set of strings-assisted tunes that range from hard-hitting heavy rock to emotional ballads. Michael Barnes? vocals are as strong as ever, while his lyrics contain the usual uplifting themes associated with Christian acts. There are 2 too many ballads & Red don?t exactly push boundaries, but otherwise this is another satisfying album from a consistent outfit. Recommended Tracks: Feed the Machine, Hymn for the Missing, Let it Burn & Faceless.
35Red City Radio
The Dangers of Standing Still

'The Dangers of Standing Still', the debut LP from Oklahoma's Red City Radio, is one of many impressive melodic punk releases in 2011. Containing passionately delivered, strong & sincere lyrics that are full of relatable catch-phrases, all 4 members contribute their predominantly raspy vocals as layered gang chants are everywhere. It's consistent & would be a hoot live, but with all 12 tracks tightly played at an upbeat pace, many songs bleed into the next, as the stock-standard production fails to make the hooks sufficiently distinctive. Recommended Tracks: I'm Well You're Poison, Spinning In Circles..., This Day's Seen Better Bars & 50th and Western.
36Four Year Strong
In Some Way, Shape, or Form.

Following the loss of their keys player, Four Year Strong discernibly alter their sound on 4th LP 'In Some Way, Shape, or Form'. Likely to alienate many loyal fans, tighter mainstream rock is the genre of choice, although it's mostly given the hard-hitting treatment which the quartet's past suggests. While there are still bugs to iron out (some tracks cross the line into blandness), the highlights are a nice compromise of styles that should find a greater audience. Hey, it's not as if the band were ever the most original or diverse group going around! Recommended Tracks: The Infected, Heaven Wasn't Built to Hold Me, Fairweather Fan & The Security of the Familiar....

Following excellent breakthrough LP 'Clockwork', Aussie rapper Phrase challenges himself further on 3rd LP 'Babylon'. Predominantly setting aside traditional beats & samples for more of a live band approach, it results in genres as diverse as indie-pop & garage rock being integrated into his base hip-hop sound. The half-singing/half-rapping style works better than you'd think, while numerous guest vocalists add effective variety. As the highlight title track claims: "Life comes with ups & downs"... And that ends up being the case on this audacious, ambitious & admirable release. Recommended Tracks: Babylon, Phoenix, Apart & Shut Em Down.
38Junior Battles
Idle Ages

Despite 'Idle Ages' being their debut LP, Toronto quartet Junior Battles display significant growth when compared to their previous 2 EPs. In fact, the lyrical theme of the responsibilities of maturing vs youthful recklessness is somewhat mirrored by the band themselves. It makes for an engrossing & diverse - if not especially immediate - listen, where the Canadians add a bit of alt & indie to their pop-punk roots. While the dual & gang vocals remain, the hooks are dialed down on this back-loaded album which still bodes well for the band's future. Recommended Tracks: Passing Out, Nostalgic at 23, Living in the Future of Feelings & Radio.
Making Mirrors

Adhering to the template set down by the occasionally brilliant 'Like Drawing Blood', Gotye (aka Belgian born Aussie Wally De Backer) returns with his 3rd LP 'Making Mirrors'. Once more exploring a number of genres & styles, this album is a little more immediate than its predecessor, with breakout single 'Somebody That I Used To Know' deservedly earning mainstream crossover success. As captivating as it is frustrating, 'Making Mirrors' is not the most consistent & cohesive release of 2011, but this kind of quirky, sophisticated pop is to be encouraged. Recommended Tracks: Somebody That I Used To Know, Eyes Wide Open, In Your Light & Save Me.
40Panic! At the Disco
Vices & Virtues

On their 3rd LP 'Vices & Virtues', Las Vegas outfit Panic! At The Disco return to the quirky & theatrical style which made their debut such a success. Reduced to the duo of Brendon Urie & Spencer Smith, the music is no less diverse & almost always interesting (including strings, horns, piano, percussion, handclaps, etc...). Beginning & ending exceptionally, slickly produced pop-rock with an 80's leaning is the name of the game here. And while the lyrics may not be quite as good since the departure of Ryan Ross, this is still a well-intentioned, fun & catchy album. Recommended Tracks: The Ballad of Mona Lisa, Hurricane, Let's Kill Tonight & Sarah Smiles.
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