Spitalfield, and Hidden in Plain View

Being a good emo/pop-punk band these days is like being a natural blonde in a sea of peroxide. It's easy to get lost in the waves, but these bands have distinguished themselves as two of the better acts in a crowded pool. Hidden in Plain View is a New Jersey quintet that signed to Drive-Thru Records for this year's Life in Dreaming, an album that enriches the typical emo swelling choruses, chunky punk guitar and heartbroken lyricism with a hint of '90s alt-rock chug. This bit of straightforward attack leavens the seasick feeling created by too much loud/soft, swoon-inducing ebb and flow. Spitalfield at one time might have been a candidate for Dramamine, with its vertiginous volume drops and outsized balladry. There's still a hint of that on its latest, Stop Doing Bad Things, but the band manages to wed a harder attack with already-strong pop instincts, fashioning a catchy album of guitar rock that, like Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American, sounds bigger than the genre that spawned it.

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