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…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead:: So Divided (Album Review)

These Austin-based noise-rock scoundrels have never met a fake-classical fillip they couldn’t find room for in a song. On last year’s Worlds Apart, they busted out a stately waltz called “To Russia My Homeland.” As promised by its hilariously over-the-top title, “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory,” a cut from this the Trail of Dead’s fifth full-length, reaches a new peak: there’s no noise in it, or even any real rock — it’s a pretty piano ballad that sounds like the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By,” at least until the string section swells to life, at which point the tune starts to resemble a lighter-waving anthem from the new Meat Loaf CD. The rest of So Divided depends less on the band’s gear-smashing antics than on their sense of tunecraft, which isn’t as highly developed. They do strike the right combination in the title track, a nearly perfect approximation of Daydream Nation–era Sonic Youth. (MIKAEL WOOD)