Forward, Russia!

Give Me A Wall

For anyone who's considered having a Bloc Party At the Drive-In, this is your soundtrack. Savage, slashing guitars rumble over herky-jerky, hi-hat-heavy, post-core arrangements, which are goosed with synth and led by singer/keyboardist Tom Woodhead's impassioned yelp. Despite hewing close to the basic recipe of recent British dance-punk imports that mix staccato churn with insistent pop hooks, ¡Forward, Russia!'s debut is surprisingly fresh. Attribute it to inventive structures that zigzag with furious energy, allowing the group to sustain listeners' interest for much longer than its peers. Over half the tracks clock in at more than four minutes without sounding redundant. While the gimmick of naming the songs numerically in order of their creation seems overly self-conscious, it's quickly forgotten in the passionate pulse of tracks such as "Seventeen," and album highlight "Nine," which marries the group's overdriven clang to the dark, simmering romanticism of the Cure. 4 stars

¡Forward, Russia! plays the Earl Thurs., Dec. 14.