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Joyce Manor at The Big Top Gallery


Why are the pop-punk kids all so exhausted? For a class of music practically hardwired into the dumb rush of adolescence, rock's junior varsity is littered with unfun burnouts, disgruntled, dope-sick and tired of sex by age 20. Joyce Manor is just getting started, yet on its second record — April release Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired (Asian Man), all nine songs and 13 panting minutes of it — the Torrance, Calif., four-piece already sounds beaten by life. Not that it makes for bad listening. The band's self-titled LP was one of 2011's shortest, bittersweetest debuts, and it suffers nothing by shaving off six minutes and doubling down on the frowns. Melancholy is a slippery slope for punk rockers, but Of All Things is less a small downer of an album and more one huge hook, a nonagonal soul asylum in perpetual motion: "These Kind of Ice Skates" staking a 78-second foundation of tent-pole eighth notes and singer/guitarist Barry Johnson's naked barks; "See How Tame I Can Be" and the micro-epic "Bride of Usher" (2:18) curing their young man's blues with bubbling Smiths bass lines and fading laments written in invisible ink ("I don't remember anyone I haven't seen for years/ I don't remember being anywhere but here"). The closer, "I'm Always Tired," is a strummed, humming number that alludes to the band's origins as an acoustic duo; it is born, lives and dies in less than a minute. Enjoy it while it doesn't last. Hop Along, All People and I'm Fine open. Admission $5. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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