So—just how important is subtlety, anyway? Were we to consult Denver four-piece The Epilogues, with November debut LP, Cinematics, cooling off on the counter, we might get an absolute, resounding “eh,” and dorks like me would be left second-guessing their jade-hued preoccupations once again. Let’s also forget and forgive the distracting parallels to L.A. arena-fillers Silversun Pickups—though they ought to be acknowledged—and try to mine what’s on the crumpled, blood-spattered page for what’s working.

The production is sort of a paradox: On one hand, it sounds satisfying and huge. They’ve stuffed up the guitars with heavy alt-bravado, arpeggiating like a ‘roided-up Death Cab or twisting out ribbons of post-rocky tremolo-picking when the dynamic peaks. Vocal hooks partner with deftly-chosen harmonies; synths succumb to the galactic rock band trope but never intrusively. Chris Heckman’s delivery will be the likely deal-breaker. Anyone digging the slavishly-anxious Manchester Orchestra or aforementioned Pickups might find it endearing, but because the music itself functions as, more or less, a conduit to the sky-always-falling storminess that pervades all, you’ll need to really feel it to spin it again. If the textures were less uniform, the epic spectacle at the heart of the songwriting might have felt less cloying.

Redeeming moments? Yes, some: “My Misinformed John Hughes Teenage Youth” serves up gooey, overcast fuzz pop that comes off like ’90s space rock. Closer “Saboteur” drops the tempo and sends the mood plummeting down a bottomless pit, revealing a sickly charm in knowing there’s no reprieve. Flip it over to start off “The Shadow King” for some Trail Of Dead-sounding chime, a perky offbeat feel, and the album’s catchiest refrain. Here lies the stuff that’s got me looking forward to the next collection by The Epilogues, an able and smart-sounding troupe. It sounds like we grew up listening to much of the same stuff, and I’d love to hear them shed the tyranny of influence.

In A Word: Mellon-Collie

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