The Vacancies

A Beat Missing or a Silence Added
(Blackheart Records)

You don't exactly picture Joan Jett writing free-verse poetry in black horn-rimmed glasses. So emo-ish album title aside, it's no surprise that The Vacancies play just the kind of unpretentious rawk you'd expect Jett to champion with her label Blackheart. A Beat Missing or a Silence Added, the Cleveland quartet's second album, offers a more approachable take on the formula worked out last decade by bands like New Jersey's Electric Frankenstein: nervy pre-punk, calloused by hardcore. There is some subtle range -- the candy hooks of "Save Yourself," the MC5-ish "L.F.D.Y." -- but the faster 'n' louder 15 tracks only differentiate themselves after multiple listens. And by that time, if you give in to their Pavlovian power, you'll be sloppier on Pabst than skinny dogs on kibble.

 
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