Moody melodicism didn't go out of style with Morrissey -- at least not for Brandtson. Though the four-year-old Ohio quartet makes music that tends to rock where the plaintive Briton rolled over, Brandtson's songs nonetheless recall those of the former Smiths frontman: They're all about the beauty of a broken heart and the great lengths people will go to combat that ailment.
What separates Brandtson's paeans to heartache from the rest of the emo pack's could well be the group's hardcore past, in which they mastered the art of writing songs that are fast and tight without being too obvious, a practice that would carry over into vocalist/guitarist Myk Porter's oblique lyrical bent. Where other groups might choose to pummel you with tales of woe, Brandtson dips and dodges around the subject like a prizefighter, only throwing in the occasional jab about last night to make the subject apparent. It's a habit the group picked up on their first release, 1998's Letterbox, and it still serves them well on their most recent (and best) full-length, Dial in Sounds, due out this March on Deep Elm.