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Building a Better

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While many of their indie-emo peers have exploded to the top of the underground (or out of it altogether) on the strength of one album or random demos, Illinois' Park has quietly been building itself a rather respected name and notable following since the '90s. And with their third album for Lobster, Park proves that the love and high anticipation shown to them leading up to the release of Building a Better _____ is for good reason. On this mellower outing than prior efforts, the band uses tight yet spacious arrangements that can be fairly dark, but remain highly enjoyable. Songs are both tender and aggressive, and instruments assert themselves without overpowering the delivery of singer/guitarist Ladd Mitchell (or vice versa). His voice may be in that slightly nasal realm favored by many, but coupled with the rest of the music, this never becomes a downfall. "Chica Chica" is both pensive and jerky, emitting an urgency that rises and falls under the direction of curving guitars and commanding drums. And one of the strongest tracks present, "Mississippi Burning," is also one of the most affecting (made all the more so by complementary female backing vocals), as it was written following the fall 2005 murder of Olamide Adeyooye, the girlfriend of the Junior Varsity's Andy Wildrick. The introspective "Angle and Errors" showcases Park's ability to pull off gentle rock acoustics without becoming a maudlin mess, while the relatively aggressive "Hide and Seek" is completely satisfying in a lighter, less indulgent Thursday sort of way. The album may not have an overabundance of immediate hooks and catchy choruses, but that's part of what makes it such a satisfying listen that begs to be played on repeat. If the emo rock of bands like Brand New and Midtown can propel them to the top of the scene, hopefully Park's own time will come soon enough. This album is proof that they more than deserve it.

Building a Better, Park
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