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Volume & Density

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Album Review

Morrissey said that Duvall is the best band in the United States. Even if you find Morrissey's taste suspect, it's hard to disagree with him based on the evidence of the debut full-length from this band, Volume & Density, which is led by the former frontman for the pioneering emo group Smoking Popes. Duvall is a power trio whose sound is heavy without being harsh, tight without being constricted, and swooningly melodic without being poppy in any meaningful sense of the term. Singer and songwriter Josh Caterer took two years off after leaving the Smoking Popes, during which time he tried to figure out how to sing about the things that mattered most to him in the wake of his conversion to Christianity without, in his words, "being cheesy." He accomplishes this by writing chord progressions that are logical and cathartic without being overweeningly anthemic, and by singing his straightforward melodies in a clear, unaffected voice that never dissolves into whiny self-regard or pompous posturing. The best examples of this band's strengths can be found in the album's lead track "All in Your Hands" and a little gem of jangly post-emo rock called "I'll Be Around." The album's most fun surprise comes in the form of a crunchy reworking of Spandau Ballet's '80s-schmaltz classic "True." And his most explicit expression of faith comes on the very last track, "Jesus Never Leaves Me." All in all, this is one of the finest rock & roll records of its time.

Volume & Density, Duvall
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