The 1900s, 'Return of the Century' (Parasol)

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Return of the Century
Critical Mass
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Label: Parasol

by Jon Young

This Chicago band's remarkable second album mixes sweet and sour, employing graceful chamber pop to illuminate twisted relationships. A melodic improvement on their 2007 debut, Return of the Century could pass for breezy escapism, thanks to mellow vocalists Edward Anderson, Caroline Donovan, and Jeanine O'Toole; but the songs' unreliable narrators invariably exhibit dismissive, selfish attitudes toward friends and lovers. From "Lay a Ghost" ("You said you'd go / I said be my guest") to "Bmore" ("Are you tired of hiding too much emotion?"), gnawing unease has rarely sounded so appealing.

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