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Record Review

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Since its release this past in spring, the Party of Helicopters' third LP has been subjected to so many different interpretations its sound alone could be the focus of a college symposium. Major themes would include the combination of Jamie Stillman's arena-metal riffs with British shoegazer reverb and shrill vocals; the possible categorization of some of singer Joe Dennis' lyrics as emo; and the incorporation of prog elements into a disc that doesn't feel particularly long, despite a couple of near-six-minute semi-epics.

Casting aside references to Iron Maiden and My Bloody Valentine, the PoH sound involves an odd and perplexing mix of conflicting thoughts and ideas. Stillman's hot-pink guitar spits out busy angular riffs and winds them around basslines that serve less as low-end foundation than as a thick sheet of echoes. Drummer Cory Race's dirty syncopations are fully embedded in the deluge of contrasting sounds, with Dennis' falsetto histrionics standing alone on the high-end.

These seemingly opposing elements bombard one another and produce a surprisingly palatable result. Highlights of the 40-minute frantic affair include the breakdown in the lead track, "The Good Punk," where Dennis probes his rage at a band not up to his standards over a martial backbeat. "Cover Me" explodes with a soaring riff, while an ode to facial hair, "The Toucher," get fitted with licks resembling bugle calls waking up the chorus lines. Please Believe It collects a series of stunning moments that rise above the chaos and hint at true sonic power.

The Party of Helicopters plays the Echo Lounge Fri., Aug. 22. $8.

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