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Downtown Singapore
Don't Let Your Guard Down
DCide Records
www.dtownrock.com


For 40 seconds, compressed trip-hop sounds leave one wondering where Downtown Singapore's Don't Let Your Guard Down is heading. Then comes the answer: the well-trodden ground of emo/pop-punk, the kind of turf where choruses of "let us burn together" are par for the course. To be fair, this kind of material can be done much, much worse than Downtown Singapore does it; with an editor to trim their songs from an average four-minute running length to around two and a half, these songs could prove quite punchy. As it is, they inevitably make their points and drag them out a bit past the expiration date.

"Choir Boy" sounds like a strange synthesis of 1998-era Get-Up Kids (with its "can't wait for disaster/My heart can't beat any faster" chorus) and the cheesy anthemic rush of Journey. It's got an undeniable pull, but again, it overstays its welcome. "Pose Up" offers a decent guitar riff but suffers from lyrical vapidity, while the later "Toy Soldiers and Hand Grenades" ends on a nice choral note. Closer "Your Song" is not the expected Elton John song, which makes it a thankful departure from the genre's tired tendency to whip out corny covers. Otherwise, most of the songs blur into a same-sounding haze.

Every now and then the band makes its formulaic sound work for it; on "Clean Getaway" singer Jerry Scott injects enough affectless earnestness into the line "every warning you have given me lasts forever" to give it an emotional resonance the rest of the album lacks. For the most part, though, this sounds like an application for the Warped Tour. It just about makes the grade on that front, but one can only wish bands would aim a bit higher, or at least in a more interesting direction.

-Whit Strub

Track listing:
1. The Charm Beneath Tradition
2. What She Said
3. Choir Boy
4. Gator Sweat
5. Don't Let Your Guard Down
6. Pose Up
7. Teresa Rizal
8. Clean Getaway
9. Broken Arcade
10. People for the Ethical Treatment of Artists
11. Toy Soldiers and Hand Grenades
12. Your Song


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