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Thursday, ‘Common Existence’ (Epitaph)

These Smiths-loving, post-hardcore pioneers most likely recruited Flaming Lips and MGMT producer Dave Fridmann to finally disassociate their sound from the second- generation emo they helped define. But rather than straining for pop sophistication, Fridmann simply brightens and focuses the band’s darker, more obtuse corners. While previous stabs at atmospheric balladry rang hollow, as Geoff Rickly’s voice ricocheted around purposelessly, “Time’s Arrow” teems with vulnerable grit. And things really rev up on latter-half tracks such as “Circuits of Fever,” which crackles with the colorful chaos of vintage Mars Volta.

Listen: Thursday, “Friends In The Armed Forces”