The Death of a Party by Mike Munz

Two years after its debut EP release, Oakland art-rock act the Death of a Party returns with its first full-length, The Rise and Fall of Scarlet City. Unfortunately, this former party band has stumbled with Rise'sderivative, post-punk twitchiness and goth-smeared posturing. Singer Gareth Philip Nicholas and company sound like they're worshiping too closely at the altar of Bloc Party and Gang of Four. Yet, unlike its popular influences, the Death of a Party doesn't craft solid pop songs, relying instead on emo-impassioned lyrics ("This broken home by the waves of the ocean/ Could be your very own island") and underdeveloped anthems. Lead track "Coronation Under Scarlet Seas" feels like six songs lumped into one, while "The Fox & the Hound" and "The Perfectionist" are more concerned with vocal theatrics than anything else. The results here are a pity, because for all of Nicholas' histrionics, he's a decent singer, and Battleship drummer Patrick Lynch frenetically beats the hell out of his kit. But for a band that emerged from the Oakland underground, it's startling to hear such a prominent slide into commercial mimicry. Mike Munz

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