The gist All-caps enthusiasts release a dark/high energy second album The music THE TEST opens with a industrial blast of icy noise, not a million miles away from the symphonic drones of Tim Hecker's last LP Love Streams. But that opening gambit seems like a distant memory 30 seconds in, as Civil Civic turn into borderline electro-chartbusters, albeit ones with no lyrics and a nack for downbeat chord sequences. And that's pretty much the theme of the whole album as the duo flit between anthemic party beats with pumping basslines and doom-laden downers with some screaming pomp-rock guitars thrown in for good measure (all in the space of the individual tracks). It's an interesting sound, and one that I didn't quite know what to think of after the first few listens, but eventually I found myself becoming accustomed to this strange niche they've got going on. It's running music and it's also slipping into a pit of self-despair music. As a reference point i'd liken THE TEST to a strange mashup of early Cure, Justice and even (God forbid!) Muse before they went way too far up their own arse. Not that Civil Civic don't get a bit pompous and proggy at times (see "THE MIRROR"), it just doesn't descend into self-parody. Most satisfyingly of all though, THE TEST is proof that you can do an electro-rock crossover album without it sounding like a big pile of shite. Listen to "THE SHIFT" - a motoric shift through the gears, starting with a inconspicuous guitar jangle and ending with complete sonic frenzy.