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If Collinsville-based band Early Worm was content with being a snotty, smirking, neo-emo band, that would be good enough for its first full-length release. But perhaps owing to the members' music-school background (and confirmed jazzbo extracurriculars), the trio stretches the guitar-bass-drums format past its punkish roots and finds something both experimental and visceral. Truck is available as a free download and was largely home-recorded, though the two songs done with Ryan Wasoba ("The Organ that Named Itself," especially) show that a little studio magic only sharpens the band's dynamic range. Plus, a horn section never hurt anyone.

When Josiah Joyce pushes his nearly adenoidal vocals to their limit, he can tap into the demented pop of XTC's early records, as on the teeter-tottering near-epic "Pig Sty." That track in particular shows the band's deconstructionist tendencies and its discipline in finding Zen beauty in minimalist repetitions. How these different sounds hang together on the eleven-track album clearly isn't of much concern to the band, given that the LP kicks off with a goofy, self-referential intro that lasts all of twenty seconds. Coming at the album's midpoint, the field-recorded ruminations and spacey guitar on the interstitial "Breather" sounds like a different project altogether, followed as it is by the pinging and peppy "Interrupting Trumpet." But bassist Aaron O'Neill and drummer Zachary Simmons anchor these songs with a lithe rumble, and both players can artfully flip tracks with a simple twist. That level of mastery gives these songs — which would be fine as boilerplate, pop-punk songs left unadorned — unpredictability and depth. 

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September 23, 2020

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