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I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness 

Fear Is on Our Side (Secretly Canadian)

Since the 2003 release of its self-titled EP, this quintet from Austin, Texas has searched for much richer, darker soundscapes. Unlike tinny Interpol offerings, this dozen-song set reveals seductive passion. Bloc Party might have sounded this good, if it had added a bit of polish to its dehydrated dance-punk sound.

Fear Is on Our Side is enraptured with new wave, post-punk, and post-hardcore, and carefully captures every bit of it, thanks to the production of former Ministry bassist Paul Barker. Brooding album opener "The Ghost" introduces the band's furious mix of guitars, bass, and drums. The throbbing, David J-like bass lines of "According to Plan" and echoes of early Cure on the instrumental "The Owl" quickly sync up with the album's wavering pace. Even the more melodic moments, such as "We Choose Faces" and "If It Was Me," are equally fresh and hypnotic with lush guitar layers and mood.

More by MacKenzie Wilson

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