London Kentish Town Bull & Gate

A sucker-punch symphony at the top of their game.

It begins with synth squelch and gentle chiming, ends with all-out screeching guitar skronk and, in between, sounds like R.E.M treading sensitively through an explosion in a sampler factory. Strange stuff, but make no bones: Washington DC's The Dismemberment Plan might blow your mind, but they're aiming just as surely at your heart.

Take 'Gyroscope', all off-kilter electric shocks with a choking chorus hiding in the wings; or 'You Are Invited', wired frontman Travis Morrison dismantling society's foibles over an old-skool electro pulse; or 'Spider In The Snow', its skittish skank bubbling below Travis' affecting narrative of loneliness and alienation. This is math-rock with as much soul as smarts, emo-core that tears up the well-worn melodic blueprint to carve a sound as serrated and gooseflesh-raw as the richly emotive lyrics.

But it's the anthemic 'The City' that's gonna have you tattooing 'The Dismemberment Plan' across your hearts before the year's out. The music's less cluttered - just a sweeping organ wail and guitars'n'drums cresting as Travis, similarly less animated than before, closes his eyes, leans into the mic, and howls in perfect Stipe timbre, "The city's been dead since you've been gone". It's poetically simple, disquietingly honest and so powerful it sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

The Dismemberment Plan are on fire right now. A sucker-punch symphony at the top of their game.

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