The Juliana Theory

Dropped by Epic following the disastrously overproduced Love, The Juliana Theory comes out swinging with Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat, an unapologetically white-knuckled take on its trademark emo-punk. Vocalist/songwriter Brett Detar has clearly been listening to his Guns N' Roses records: Booming drum fills and snarling vocal turns abound. The guitars swarm and buzz on tracks like "French Kiss-Off" and "Shotgun Serenade," giving the Pittsburgh band a menacing edge that was previously lacking. On the most superficial level, Deadbeat is a success -- delivering the group from emo's syrupy stylistic trappings. However, even the band's heaviest sonic swipes can't distract from weak underlying hooks and occasionally embarrassing lyrics ("I know it's you I can't forget/Bang bang shoot shoot"). The Juliana Theory's newfound might is all surface, no depth.