As a music reviewer, it's hard to avoid preconceptions about a band as much as one may try to remain objective. The Class of 98 (a band too cool for apostrophes, apparently) is just the sort of band that I'm conditioned to hate from the get-go -- MTV-ready, sugary-sweet emo-pop. And as much as I want to dismiss it as the classic radio-sellout before anyone even knows who this band is, The Class of 98's debut album Touch This and Die is impossibly catchy and well-put-together. Rather than sounding like a band compromising its sound for the sake of worldwide fame and teenage groupies, The Class of 98 sounds like a group of guys who know who they are, who play the sort of music they just happen to be good at, and much like Jimmy Eat World, do it far better than any band should be able to. Sure, a whole album of the stuff starts to bleed together after a while, and "The Only One" sounds at times like a rewrite of Jimmy Eat World's "Work". Fortunately, songs like "Christy's Wedding", the really-quite-sweet "Hannah You're Beautiful", and the sad-but-not-dwelling-on-it "New Year's Resolution" will keep you singing well into the night. The band is tight, the vocals are on-pitch and not all that whiny, and the melodies are swell. What more could an aspiring teenybopper want?
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