The closest thing the late ’90s have to the Psychedelic Furs, Jets to Brazil is by turns charmingly awkward and achingly graceful, rendering the loose debris of pop-punk sentimentality in slightly abstract pop anthems. The band takes its name from an obscure reference to a scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as if to warn listeners of its emotional turbulence. Orange Rhyming Dictionary treads on well-mapped territory—the punk-rock pedigree of Jets to Brazil’s personnel (ex-Jawbeaker, Handsome, and Texas Is the Reason) is impeccable, and the band will likely never escape it. But the debut album succeeds almost solely on the strength of frontman Blake Schwarzenbach’s knack for always having something interesting to say and the language at his disposal to say it. “You’ve been looking for it the right blade all your life/Saying, ‘Who’s gonna cut me down to a size that suits me?/Is there a worthy sculptor among all you fine young knives?’” Schwarzenbach sings—less a challenge to detractors than a pep talk to his humbled self. The album’s best moments offer similarly reflective inner dialogues wherein his consciousness streams gloriously atop infectious, high-energy pop rock, nearly stripped of its punk trappings for dramatic effect.

—Colin Bane

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