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BrakesBrakesBrakes' sophomore album is a skittish romp that finds the young British band (whose members include alumni of British Sea Power and Electric Soft Parade) interspersing off-kilter rockers that give a nod toward the B-52's, XTC, and Talking Heads, with solemn, meditative ballads and the occasional hint of country twang. Despite its quirks — and there are plenty, to be sure — songs like "Hold Me in the River" "Margarita," and "Mobile Communication" work their way under the skin after only a couple of concentrated listens. Chalk that up to a sound that's so unexpectedly embracing that, like their handle itself, repetition becomes more a matter of compulsion or at very least a mandate for further investigation. Typical of many novice combos plotting their direction, the Brakes' music teeters between interesting and essential — the weirdly meandering "Isabel" providing an example of the former, the absolutely infectious "On Your Side" nodding to the latter. So while The Beatific Visions rarely proves as revelatory as its title implies, it's convincing enough to make the case that this is a group that's at least worth watching.

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Lee Zimmerman

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