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Extra Life

Secular Works

The crushing tension in the guitars, the tangled war drums and the operatic voice that collides in "Blackmail Blues" – the opening number from Extra Life's Secular Works – presents an interesting dilemma. The avant-raga wail and dense arrangements of strings, drums and moods weave a tapestry of accomplished musicianship, but the group comes across as a one-trick pony. "I Don't See It That Way" and "The Refrain" are massive skulking songs filled with peaks and valleys that are carved around frontman Charlie Looker's mesmerizing vocal range. But once the formula becomes clear, there's not much to distinguish songs. Secular Works is a definitive entry point to the group's catalogue, but until the band expands its palette, Extra Life has a short shelf-life. 3 stars.

Extra Life plays WonderRoot w/ Thy Mighty Contract and Hollow Stars. $5. Wed., Sept. 20. 8 p.m.