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...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead 

Worlds Apart (Interscope)

Austin gear-destroyer ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead is one of those bands signed to a major label not for commercial viability but for street cred. Like Sonic Youth -- from whose fakebook Trail of Dead notoriously borrowed more than a few pages for 2002's Source Tags & Codes -- the quartet brings edginess to Interscope's roster but doesn't exactly create albums meant for mainstream consumption. Case in point: the indulgent mess Worlds Apart, which suggests TOD is having quite the identity crisis. Drool over post-R.E.M., mid-'80s jangle rock? Try the title track. Into Air's floating ambience? Chill with "The Last City of Refuge." Pine for grunge-era throttling? Crank up "Caterwaul." Even more haphazard than these genre jumps are Apart's transitions -- such as placing the string-jaunty outtake from Amélie before the track with the grandiose gospel choir -- or its head-scratching experiments, like piano cabaret that resembles Rufus Wainwright refracted in a funhouse mirror. In fact, the scattered nature of this disc is its true weakness: Whereas Codes felt ready to detonate at any moment despite its cohesion, Apart floats aimlessly, like dust and debris silently cascading downward in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

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September 23, 2020

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