The Agency Turn

This record has a lot stacked against it, or in its favour, depending on your point of view. Once home to cry-baby extraordinaire Chris Carrabba, the band are led by Dashboard Confessional’s current drummer, Mike Marsh. While things here are certainly emo with a capital "E,” they’re also insanely catchy and lacking the appalling narcissism that currently plagues the genre. With a smoothed-out pop sound not unlike Hey Mercedes or late-era Promise Ring, the Agency frequently sounds like Quicksand might with incessant melody, pitch-perfect vocals and a commercial production sheen. At least two steps ahead of the bands they’re likely to share tour bills with, songs like "I’m Innocent” are so catchy, without being derivative, that it’s insane. Sort of like a kid who grew up listening to Sunny Day Real Estate but who can’t stop spinning Maroon 5 when he’s alone in his room, the Agency push both the pop and the emo genres, making for a record that can’t be played all the time but can be played loud when the moment calls for it. (Eulogy)