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The Design's Young America 

The Design delivers a load of promises on "Scream," the first track of their second album, Young America. They guarantee "a good time," "a ball," "lower[ed] inhibitions," "it all." They also want to "get to know you," and they will "get you laid" as they're "getting shitfaced." To seal the deal, powerhouse lead singer Kat Robichaud only asks for your most guttural screams. Not a bad trade-off.

Beginning the record with a performance-oriented blast like "Scream" is a gamble. It seems that the energy of a lot of acts would wilt on such a song in the studio, and they'd deliver a snooze. The Design defies that dynamic on this and most every other track on Young America. While exploring the edges of pop-rock from Ramones-esque punk ("Red Alert") to balladry ("You Don't Have to Be Alone Anymore") to '70s-inspired fusion ("Get it Together"), The Design proves as capable of switching styles as they are energetic at executing them.

Robichaud's commanding voice admirably pushes trite emotions and simple lyrics from blasé to bombast, offering a showcase of total conviction as much as vocal prowess. The militaristic "Burn" explodes with vengeance; "It All Goes On Without You" cheers emancipation from a regrettable ex-lover; "Sing Girl Sing" pleads for recognition. Even "Reckless Boys," the playful pop ode to bad boys, works because of the sincerity in her voice. Robichaud's imposing tone is an asset not only because it serves the songs, but also because it rivets the listener.

If this is the sort of energy she and the band can create in the controlled studio environment, imagine the histrionics a stage might provoke. In the classic way that records are simply advertisements for live shows, Young America is a very good advertisement. The Design may not be able to deliver on that lay (that's your burden, hoss), but "a good time" shouldn't be hard to muster.

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