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To purists, getting older and writing more mature, complex songs might as well be code for “going soft.” Girls Against Boys album and Paramount Styles frontman Scott McCloud seems to have anticipated that criticism in titling his new record Failure American Style, but the name is more of a pleasant irony than a self-fulfilling prophecy. The disc includes a sullen missive to New York City’s self-perpetuating mythology as the epicenter of cool, but McCloud generally sets aside the bitterness, brings in more acoustic guitar and piano than his old band, and cleans up the rough edges of his previous output to capitalize on the allure of his throaty, husky drawl. His songs haven’t lost their angularity, but it’s the closest he’ll get to producing make-out music.

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