Sybris' powerful two-guitar, drum-pounding pop makes it clear that the band is a


, even if Angela Mullenhour sometimes receives enough focus to sound like a singer-songwriter with backing musicians. Mullenhour at times sounds like she's croaking her words through tightened throat muscles and around a swollen tongue, a technique that's inexplicably common with young female acoustic-guitar singer-songwriters who want to be the next PJ Harvey. Fortunately, these songs are no coffee-house filler. "Blame It on the Baseball" opens with soft waves of feedback, gentle percussion and the line "You quit smoking on the day I was born," yet the slow-and-sweet sound gradually builds until the guitars are overdriven and quick-strummed into a wall of noise that threatens to drown out her song-ending confessions: "I don't know how to/how to quit smoking/how to fall in love." The debut may be nothing groundbreaking, but the Chicago band sneaks enough hooks into its Albini-influenced post-punk to win over all walks of rock fan.

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