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Record review: See Gulls' You Can't See Me

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See Gulls do their emotional and melodic damage with enviable efficiency.

On You Can't See Me, the excellent five-song debut of the pan-Triangle quartet, only one track breaks the four-minute mark, while three stop short of three minutes. This doesn't mean bandleader Sarah Fuller or expatriated member Jacki Huntington, who penned the closing war cry "Don't Write Me Love Songs" before decamping to Brooklyn last year, have little to say or too few ways to deliver it. Rather, these 15 minutes curse a bad ex-boyfriend in the produce section, find escapist relief in rock 'n' roll and physical defiance, paint poor old Cupid as a bumbling idol and haunt a romantic betrayer with the sly intensity of a psychological thriller. Fuller, it seems, has plenty of tales to tell.

Best of all about these odes to being over it, though? They're uniformly magnetic and addictive, anti-love songs that, in spite of themselves, linger longer than feelings for an old flame. Above blown-out bass and intertwining razor-wire riffs, buoyant harmonies turn the edict of "Don't Write Me Love Songs" into a kind of gospel credo, meant to be shared and shouted by a congregation. And the resplendent, Phil Spector-inspired mope "Long Gone" is so bewitching that, by the time Fuller spots the offending cad in the supermarket, you hate him, too. And the clattering "Karate Kicks" extends an invitation to shake off sentimental sadness; the request is as irresistible as the tune is irrepressible.

While these five songs are individually impressive, both for their hooks and the barbed sentiments and smarts they convey, they're especially impressive as a set for such a new band. See Gulls don't repeat themselves musically, so that the Sleater-Kinney howl of "Karate Kicks" complements the cooed harmonies of "Cupid" rather than merely reinforces it. Fuller has said she wants to write about more than breakups; by writing exclusively about them for one of the Triangle's best beginnings this decade, she's shown she's got the range and the backing crew to do it.

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