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The (International) Noise Conspiracy: The Cross Of My Calling

Album: The Cross Of My Calling
Label: Vagrant

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What could be more shocking from a once-radical group of Marxist punks than an album of bubblegum rock? Under the slick production eye of Rick Rubin, The (International) Noise Conspiracy—a band that once wrote songs with titles like "Capitalism Stole My Virginity" and "Abolish Work"—is now singing of optimism, relationships, and Beverly Hills. The Cross Of My Calling lacks the '60s- and '70s-inspired garage and soul influences—not to mention the DIY feel—that made its early albums engaging, which means that it's best to approach it like a late-'70s Kinks disc: Forget what the band has done in the past, and focus on the product at hand. Sure, "Boredom Of Safety" sounds a bit like an '80s power ballad, but it's also passionate, bittersweet, and catchy. And "Hiroshima Mon Amour" is so laughably, blatantly radio-friendly that it's an easy guilty pleasure. There are unexpected gems hidden here.