Reigning Sound, 'Love and Curses' (In the Red)

Critical Mass
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by Charles Aaron

Garage-punk mensch Greg Cartwright has been refining the Reigning Sound's frayed, soulful bleat since the band's 2001 debut (after his rowdier crew, the Oblivians, screeched their last). And here he's at his most tenderly heartworn yet. On Love and Curses' midtempo ballads ("Trash Talk," "The Bells," "Something to Hold Onto"), Cartwright's rasp is warmed by Dave Amels' swirling organ, and the melodies move with bruised girl-group ease. Even a potential sod-off stomper like "Debris" betrays not a whit of petulance. Garage rockers have rarely aged gracefully -- here's how.

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