This one caught me off guard like a sucker punch to the cranium. I was initially put off by the atrocious cover—a poorly Photoshopped collage featuring an eagle, twenty dollar bills, a pair of assault rifles, a roller coaster, and two greasy slices of pepperoni pizza—but the design may also be brilliant. Atrocious because the resolution blows, brilliant because all those things are the American Dream, right? Right. Besides, the cover lowers all expectations to asubterraneanlevel.But then the first song starts, and it’s immediately infectious. The vocals have the ideal amount of twang and snot, à la Violent Femmes. The sort of slacker angst inflections that make you believe you can sing every note. And you will want to—assuming you can digest tongue-in-cheek silliness. Luckily, North Trolls aren’t musical slackers either as they run the gamut from garage punk to grunge balladry to Cheap Trick pop rock. The varying styles avoid parody, and across the board the choruses are tight and the hooks fit snug. Definitely one of my favorite and most out of the blue pop records of 2013.
–Sean Arenas (No Breaks)