For bands that last long enough to make three albums, the third is often a major turning point. American Werewolf Academy is no exception. For starters, there are the personnel changes; singer Aaron Thedford and drummer Tony Harper remain, but Jake Barnhart has replaced Noah Prikryl on bass, and former full-time Werewolf cadet Mike Gargiulo appears on only one song.
The band's first two records, Devil, Spit It Out and Tell Them Right Now! were notable for simple, incredibly catchy songs that generally clocked in under two minutes. Triceratops gives songs more time to develop. Even more surprisingly, they're not all relentlessly cheery powerpop. Thedford sings sad tales of wasted potential in the subdued "Wild Birds," which features mournful cello from guest Kris Youmans, until the uplifting chorus.
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But there are plenty of powerpop gems too. The upbeat "Summer Ship," featuring the band's old lineup, toasts the Metrognome (a defunct Cowtown art and music space) over a Byrds-esque guitar lead. "Man With No Off Switch" packs crunchy guitar chords, falsetto backup vocals, organ riffs and a couple of tempo changes into one great song.