Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, "The Brutalist Bricks"

70 Billboard Rating

English punk band Crass may have declared in 1979 that "Punk Is Dead," but Ted Leo & the Pharmacists help refute that notion on their sixth studio set, "The Brutalist Bricks." Although it may not be a punk album through and through, songs like "The Stick" and "Where Was My Brain?" embody the genre's spirit with pounding drums, frenzied guitars and rushed deliveries (the former cut clocks in at less than two minutes), while "Mourning in America" mixes the genre's chaotic arrangements and political bite with Leo's usual power-pop flare. The frontman's pop tendencies also shine through on "Ativan Eyes," where he serenades a drugged lover with catchy hooks and references punk predecessor Flux of Pink Indians. Tracks like this should please fans of the band's stock-in-trade, while the set will pleasantly surprise open-eared listeners.-Lindsey Fortier

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