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Socializing With Life

The Dunes

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Album Review

Part of a mini-trend of Canadian bands that take the epic pop-pomp of U2 and early Radiohead as their starting point (see also the Dears and Arcade Fire, among others), Ontario's the Dunes don't go nearly as far afield from their influences as their contemporaries, and this is not necessarily a good thing. The Dunes specialize in grandiose wide-screen pop songs that unfurl under leader Kevin Pullen's somewhat histrionic and emo-tinged lead vocals. It's all very earnest, almost to the point of being insufferably pompous. What saves the Dunes is that the passionate delivery is matched to a better than average melodic sense and an eye for detail in the arrangements that actually led to the band taking the unusual step of pulling the initial 2004 release of Socializing with Life, remixing and tweaking the song lineup to improve the album's overall sound and flow. This allows the listener to keep from focusing on Pullen's angsty lyrical world-view on songs like "What You Wanted" and "The Easiest." So...Canada's post-millennial equivalent to Simple Minds, then? There are worse things to be; there are also so much better.

Socializing With Life, The Dunes
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