Serious adversity calls for serious ammo: Alberta Cross’ Broken Side of Time often sounds as if the band is trying to jar itself awake from a nightmare. “I just want to leave/Is that a crime?” sings Peter Ericson Stakee, who with bassist Terry Wolfers moved to New York from Britain last year, where the pair quickly found themselves homeless and poor in a part of Brooklyn where being broke is often a fashionable pose. Their band’s proper introduction to American audiences chronicles their own rocky introduction to America: “Come on take me home/’Cause I just wanna feel/’Cause I just can’t relate,” Stakee sings on “ATX”; “We were out of touch/We were out of feel,” he cries on “Rise From the Shadows.” The problem is, the band generally expresses the suffocation and disillusionment that can come from city living with stock metaphors like closing walls, rising tides, and haunted streets; it is the album’s music where the band’s frustration finds purchase. Its distorted guitars and quick tempos underscore the desperate tone of the lyrics, which often play more like a series of choleric diary entries. This makes the album more true to the tale of ambitious foreigners getting kicked around in a new country, but it also makes it less fun—Broken Side of Time is as inhospitable as New York itself. This is a big shift from the largely acoustic sing-alongs and bluesy style of 2007’s The Thief and the Heartbreaker EP, a fact made all the more obvious because the EP’s most infectious tracks are included among this album’s dark ballads. With the band plotting a move to Austin, you have to wonder whether the grungy angst of Broken Side of Time will come along, or if it will stay in New York where Alberta Cross found it.