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The Spill Canvas

There's a time in the lives of most impressionable young people when they need simple, unadorned songs that speak for them without unnecessary poetics or metaphor. This music states in plain language what a young listener is feeling, and maybe not yet understanding. Giving voice to adolescent angst grants emo its potency.

Originally a vehicle for the hormonal urgencies of one musician, South Dakota native singer-songwriter Nick Thomas, the Spill Canvas has grown into a full-fledged band, but the songs on its latest album still refuse emotional depth or complexity.

The high-octane and painfully earnest material here is like that of Dashboard Confessional or Jimmy Eat World, before they decided to stop whining and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Throwing in a little catchy-but-forgettable '70s rock, though, helps make "Hush Hush" and "Low Fidelity" fun to wiggle around to.

Thomas' struggles with the opposite sex are never more sophisticated than in the following sample lyrics: "Why can't you just love me back?" ("All Over You"); or, "The truth is I only have myself to blame" ("The Truth"); or, "It's like 1,000 paper cuts soaked in vinegar" ("Battles").

Gawd, it's all so oppressively heartfelt that it makes a person want to scrawl the lyrics on a Pee Chee folder. The Spill Canvas makes music for young-adult listeners who will one day grow out of it.

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