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Riding the emo pop punk wave are The Junior Varsity, an Illinois quintet whose 11-track debut stays the course in terms of providing safe, non-provocative melodic rock suitable for your girlfriend’s record collection. Tracks like the contagious album opener “Get Comfortable” gets you set for slightly spacey rock riffs with a focus on laying down a good hook and catchy vocal line. “When We Met as Aliens” emits the kind of vibe Brand New may have if trading places with Dashboard Confessional, while the melancholic feel of “Saltwater Foundation” radiates a rock waltz that you may hear on a WB melodrama. Using (though not to excessively) a synth player within the mainframe of the band gives The Junior Varsity a broader range, though not by much, as the band’s initial impression of being a shoegazer outfit trapped in a power punk package doesn’t stray for the entire record.
- Mike SOS