'Screamo'-or- Whatever Hopefuls Prepare to Grow Old and Croak

Unbidden, the cable company hosed Vendetta Red into my home. There those Red boys were: happy-looking fellows, capering onstage while an audience of beamish fans cheered along.

Everyone pretended to be thrilled with "Shatterday," stupo-punk singalong yodeling that's catchy in the manner of ditties aimed at soundtracks for this or next year's teen movies. That is, it's not nearly good enough to be on Up the Creek, but equal to anything from Freaky Friday. Along with the rest of Vendetta Red's Between the Never and Now, though, it also sounds like pop construction by overwrought computer program.

The algorithm is pat: acoustic or clean guitar strumming, pretty and/or melancholy, to start every number. Call that "Subroutine A." Then loud guitars and drums arrive, and someone who resembles "I'm in You" Peter Frampton, but without the wardrobe, starts a vague entreaty dealing either with betrayal or uplift. Call that "Subroutine B."

Every number alternates subroutines—A-B-A-B-A-B—so well that one becomes convinced the producer was sitting in front of a workstation, plugging and playing until each track was only as long as the record company thought it ought to be. So the album never rocks, even if "Suicide Party" and "Lipstick Tourniquets" might confuse those without a firm grasp of the subject.

That's unimportant, though, because Vendetta Red are for fans who realize the importance of being earnest—young people who feel things much more deeply than the rest of us burned-out shits. You know 'em—the new teen Frank Wedekinds, lugubrious weblog chroniclers confessing closet bisexuality or lamenting how we grow old and croak, our pleas unheard.

 
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