September 19, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it an A-

Fans of this quartet might be put off by its fourth CD. Their loss. Produced by Rob Schnapf (Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith), it’s an unexpectedly poppy collection of left-field melodies and twisty song structures that wrap around your brain like a head cold. Puppy-dog-voiced frontman Chris Conley’s pained deconstructions of his romantic entanglements can get a little precious, but the music is so clever it hardly matters. Let’s hope emo kids can open their minds as wide as their diaries and embrace the band’s gutsy step forward.

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