The Most Serene Republic, '...And the Ever Expanding Universe' (Arts & Crafts)

Critical Mass
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by David Marchese

A primary-color blast of major-key melodies, airy boy-girl vocals, ringing guitars, skipping rhythms, brass, woodwinds, and rolling piano, the rather exhaustingly charming third album from this Canadian collective radiates with the earnest warmth of a child's finger painting. It's about as deep, too. Almost nothing on this jumble -- not a lyric, chorus, nor riff -- stands out. When penultimate track "Don't Hold Back, Feel a Little Longer" opens with sharp synths, the clarity of purpose is almost jarring. So hang Universe on the fridge, and look at it as a sign of potential.

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