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Akron quartet Dolly Trauma emotes like a teen caught up in a first crush. "I'll never surrender my heart," singer Josh Coon promises on the opening cut of the band's latest EP, an album full of melodrama and inscrutable song titles ("Iowaiga," "Ampleaxu Tenebat"). Think Sunny Day Real Estate taking a dip in Dawson's Creek.

With quavering vocals and pretty, papier-mâché melodies underscored by spiky guitars, Dolly Trauma's moody relationship rock is delicate yet determined. At times, the band becomes too maudlin for its own good, losing itself in gooey sentimentality ("Just imagine heaven holding us," Coon sighs at one point) and sermonizing worthy of Dr. Phil ("We should always live for the moment"). But the band's buoyant, two-part harmonies and tightly honed arrangements routinely save the day, making The Loyal Oak just as sturdy as its title implies.

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More by Jason Bracelin

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