Tasteful, stylish, and oh-so-very bright, the Last Post’s new Dry Land offers 11 slices of gussied-up Northern soul, each and every one of them poppier than a Chinese pug’s eyeballs. So why don’t I particularly care for this Irish outfit’s sophomore album? It probably has something to do with the way my wife asked, “Is this Styx or something?” Or the fact that it features some of the most wussified boy-band vocals this side of ‘N Sync. From the echoes of doo-wop-adoring album-opener “Something Tells Me (You’d Be Good For Me)” to the lushly romantic “Waiting,” Dry Land is so clean-cut and cuddly that you can almost imagine the members of the Last Post gathered in some Dublin studio, hands pressed to headphones, bedecked in matching letter sweaters just like the Four Freshmen. “You’ve Got It All” is the “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” of the new millennium, a slow-building barn-burner that comes complete with a crescendo like a death scene out of Italian opera. Indeed, big climaxes are what these boys do best: You can skip “Change”‘s forgettable foreplay, which sets frontman Alan Kelly’s vox to an ass-dragging, faux-country melody, but be sure to slide under the covers for its stunning finale. And unless you’ve had your schlock bone surgically removed, I doubt whether you’ll be able to withstand the all-out schmaltz assault of album-closer “It’s All Over….” Beginning with Kelly’s lovelorn croon (“The only way I know/Is just to say it/It hurts when we’re together/It hurts when we’re alone/Oh, it’s allllll over”), the track quickly turns into a march of romantic despair, strings bowing to a hammy Hammond organ and a solitary trumpet designed to remind you that we’re all alone, so you’d better hang on to what’s at hand. Whether that’s a lover, a mother, or—why not?—this double helping of Black Forest cake masquerading as a silly love song, I’ll leave up to you. —Michael Little

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