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That Flawless Flashing Day (Alamo-Sunset Records)

Bands can make emo without sounding like crybabies. Grayscale proves it on That Flawless Flashing Day, the duo's debut. Featuring confessionals that other bands would be mortified to publish, the disc revels in nerdy emo insecurity. On "I'm Stuck With Me," singer Douglas Dunbar actually wishes he was more like Orlando Bloom, dropping lame-ass poetics like "Sometimes I feel most alone when you're next to me."

Dunbar's soft voice only adds to the band's wimpy aura. But don't confuse wimpy with whiny. With its spirited pop, Grayscale appeals to more than just sad teenage bastards. Like the Cure, the Smiths, and R.E.M., the band wraps its melancholy in jangly bubblegum. What's more, the duo spices up its straightforward tunes with piano, strings, and acoustic guitars, giving its music the maturity its lyrics lack.

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