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So They Say 

Life in Surveillance (Fearless Records)

The local quartet So They Say sounds at home in its chosen format on its second full-length for respected indie label Fearless Records. Life in Surveillance features back-and-forth vocal interchanges, overpowering drum figures and soft-LOUD-soft guitar patterns, all of which point to the current state of harder-edged emo. So They Say nails these traits without taking too many chances, but to the band's credit, Surveillance is technically perfect — the tempo changes and guitar licks are razor-sharp, and the vocal harmonies complement each other without being overly cloying or needlessly emphatic. It's a rare case of a young band showing the wisdom of restraint amid the excess of a modern recording studio.

"You're Welcome" moves along on a stutter-step beat as a flurry of electronic blips and beeps build in the song's periphery. It's one of the few places where the band (and producer Matt Hyde) tinkers with the dual-vocal emo formula. The next track, "Close Range," sneaks in a fuzzy, descending stoner-rock riff amid all the high-neck guitar riffage. Things get heavy with the closing track "Nuclear Sunrise," a raga-tinged rocker with a regrettable bongo-filled coda that finds singer Joseph Hamilton exhorting the listener to "get off your ass and start a revolution." Really? Are people still singing about that, especially at the end of some vague, post-apocalyptic love song? So They Say would do well to remember that revolutions start on the inside — and that it's OK to take a chance on revolutionizing what has become a staid genre.

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. Email music@ riverfronttimes.com for more information.

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