Calla's brooding front man, Aurelio Valle, possesses a deliciously menacing tone; part resignation, part betrayal. His melodramatic persona dominates Collisions, an appealing collection of dour post-punk with obvious nods to gloomy godfathers such as The Cure and Joy Division. Valle's skill is in making the dynamic sound unhurried as his bandmates create soft songs that feel loud--power balladry with a gothic punch. Recorded under supposedly rancorous circumstances, this trio has managed to make the best of animosity, using antagonism as motivation. Songs such as "It Dawned on Me" and "This Better Go As Planned" begin with deceptively simple melodies and proceed to build upon them with textured nuances and bits of jagged guitar, a la prime Gang of Four. The eleven cuts on Collisions are exactly that, conflicts of lushness against aridity, hope against despair and even art against pop. It's a big-sounding record made by a band that still wants to sound small, and these apparent incompatibilities are what make the effort so vital and still maddeningly elusive.


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