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Bend Sinister

On My Mind

(File Under Music; US: 6 Mar 2012; UK: 6 Mar 2012)

It’s tough when you share a name with a Vladimir Nabokov novel, because Nabokov always played with his audience in surprising, perplexing and satisfying ways. Canadian rock outfit Bend Sinister, however, doesn’t play with expectations at all. They are the kind of power-pop act you’ve heard before, though they are a sweet version of it. You can hear Hall & Oates all over frontman Dan Moxon’s vocal melodies and tuneful delivery, and each of the five songs on On My Mind beef up Moxon’s keys with crunching guitar and, especially, the driving percussion of Jason Dana. Unfortunately, while the songs are catchy and energetic enough (see “I’m the One Leaving You” for the EP’s highlight), the songs are mostly anonymous tales of heartache. “I could tell right from the start that you were out to break my heart,” Moxon sings, and the line is representative of the easy end-rhymes and worn sentiments that fill these songs. The EP glides through four easy by-the-number pop tunes like this, though there is promise in the expansive, darker tones of closer “The Road Divided”. If it has split, if Moxon says “goodbye to that old time feeling,” here’s hoping they leave the easy pop moves behind. They’re a good rock band, now they just need the songs to match that power.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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