HEAD AUTOMATICA, "Popaganda"

"Popaganda" finds Head Automatica mainman Daryl Palumbo shapeshifting again: He started out screaming for alt-hardcore band Glassjaw, and the first Head Automatica record was a shiny, snarky dance-roc

"Popaganda" finds Head Automatica mainman Daryl Palumbo shapeshifting again: He started out screaming for alt-hardcore band Glassjaw, and the first Head Automatica record was a shiny, snarky dance-rock collaboration with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura. But with "Popaganda," he's re-outfitted his band as a five-piece to stake a middle ground between '70s glam, MTV2-approved emo and hair metal (Palumbo can turn "you" into a "ya-ooh!" as effectively as the monster balladeer of your choice). With its soaring choruses and starlight-mint hooks, "Popaganda" wears its big aspirations on its sequined sleeve, especially on the kiss-off "Lying Through Your Teeth" and the quasi-ballad "Scandalous." And though the record drags in its second half and Palumbo's voice is certainly an acquired taste, his hooks hit more than they miss. -- Jeff Vrabel