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    Album Reviews: Worlds Apart by ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

    After making the leap to the major labels with 2002’s critical home run Source Tags and Codes, Trail of Dead followed up with an EP -- The Secret of Elena’s Tomb -- that broke new ground in alternately exciting and sputtering directions. They clearly weren’t going to rest on their laurels, but would the band ultimately be bedeviled by success?

    Worlds Apart is a rousing triumph of an answer that should galvanize a fan base frustrated by the hiatus and by the album’s stalled release date (it was originally due out nearly six months ago). The new disc is mellow by the standards set by its predecessors, featuring piano rock (“Summer 91”) and courtly instrumentals (“Russia My Homeland”). The grandly cinematic, apocalyptic opening “Overture” makes it clear, though, that despite a newly warm embrace given to melody and accessibility, these Texans still know how to make a glorious racket. Highlights include the aggressive “Caterwaul” and the immediately contagious anthem “And the Rest Will Follow.”

    The title track -- a sort of state of the union -- is another standout, featuring a jaunty, college-rock guitar line that underscores Conrad Keely’s punk-inflected vocals. Even on an otherwise by-the-numbers song (“Classic Art Showcase”), Trail of Dead throws a captivating curveball with a two-minute, mid-song tangent for an orchestral build and climax. Reference points stretch from as disparate brethren as The Sea and Cake (“City of Refuge”) and For Squirrels (“Let It Dive”) to Sonic Youth and Broadway choruses. Worlds Apart was well worth the wait. - Adam McKibbin

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