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If pop music has slowly been getting louder and heavier, then post-hardcore – not qua hardcore, but as second-wave screamo – has moved closer to pop. A New Hope is an album that fits squarely into such a trend, that of the emergence of a popular post-hardcore. The seamless vocal tag-team of Preece and Pharmakis are a primary indicator: Preece handles the dirty, strained screaming and growling, while Pharmakis sings melodically with that twangy American tenor we’ve been listening to since Linkin Park, The Used, P(!)ATD &c. What separates Vanna from acts like the aforementioned is their genuinely hardcore technical elements – sudden mind-bending tempo changes, double-kick, the occasional grind, progressive guitar arrangements (see the affronting Trashmouth) – and, occasionally, lyrical content that rises above mundane personal affronts and teenage existentialism (although there is still a fair bit of that). The sense, for example, that despite the failure of humans to master faculties like language or their own senses, there are higher things at stake, permeates Safe to Say – “These words don’t always come out right / But I feel that we’re wasting time” –  now that’s fairly sophisticated for an album aspirant to the Top 40, music television & co., no? For such reasons, Vanna are a pretty exciting extension of popular music, a gesture towards something much darker, from well-within the boundaries of the accessible.

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