When not fronting World Blanket, Mike Pomranz writes for Comedy Central and blogs about beer. It’s funny, then, just how sober (in both senses of the word) he sounds on 2012, his Brooklyn-based band’s first album since 2008. With more electric guitar and less violin, these songs would hit like bar-rock anthems. Instead they push ahead with pensive energy, their downcast strings contrasting nicely with Pomranz’s lively strumming. Toward the end of “Time Was,” as violin and piano coalesce into dark clouds, Pomranz screams himself hoarse. Earlier in the same song he sings in a Bono-like falsetto about having “a lot to believe in.” While he probably means it, he’s far too smart for unbridled optimism.

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