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Hayes absolutely brims with phony grandiosity and predictable crescendos of guitar that rise and fall with the torturously emoted vocals. It's not that Aaron Smart's voice can't stretch a melody with a slow burn when he wants to; it's just that he sings like he's doing the b-actor version of sincere, sounding out each syllable like it could be his very last. Some people swear by this kind of maudlin rock, but I just impatiently wait for something to happen, discomfited by both the vaguely whimpering tones and the gutted remnants of punk and hard rock that flail around the periphery.

Eleven had a promising moment out the gate. "Necktie" at least sounds like a serviceable robbery of Radiohead, atmospheric without being overdone. From there on out, it's a by-the-numbers diluted riff fest with vocals that rise and break into distortion on the high notes before becoming murmured and unintelligible. "Hussy" has a good title but when you hear the lyric "the tears of a clown they fall in blue" and realize that no one's pulling your leg, you're likely to become as irritable about it as I was. Continuing through the rest of the album at this point would be pure, uncharitable bloodsport and I can't bring myself to do it. Suffice it is to say, this kind of music makes the barest of impressions on me, just enough to get me swatting.

I can't help but repeatedly reference the FUSE music channel whenever I come across a CD of this ilk, and trust me the number of musicians churning out this brand of sensitive rock-esque wannabe pop swill far outbreed a cicada swarm. Whenever I flip past FUSE, I'm always a bit befuddled by the bands, these backburner major label projects half-heartedly promoted or Screamo unknowns who craft music that's polished and formulaic but devoid of the kind of ephemeral charm that might catapult it into a slice of top forty market share. (Not for lack of trying, mind you) It's difficult to criticize music this anonymous and sterile without sounding like a total prick. For all the emo die hards out there, here's another one to toss on the stack, for the rest of us, it's just one more for the pyre.

-Terry Sawyer

Track Listing:

1. Necktie
2. Asinimaha
3. Anyone
4. Royal Flush
5. Juice
6. Campaign
7. Breakout
8. Hussy
9. Oblivion
10. Meltdown
11. I Will Walk


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