Cartel: Cycles 

Wind-Up

According to AllMusic.com, Cartel is an “emo” band, but it’s impossible to glean any emotional response from a group that’s so vanilla-bland that there’s no way to discern one song from the next. Cycles is the Conyers quintet’s third album — the one that’s supposed to restore its cred after that ill-advised MTV reality stunt in which they lived in a bubble for 20 days. Sure, they’re an easy target, but the soul-less whining and compression that coats every sugary surface of “Let’s Go,” “Faster Ride” and “Deep South” — not to mention the computer-generated vocal harmonies that bind them all together — ring out with the grace of a leaf blower. The only thing that separates the group from the Avril Lavignes and Ashlee Simpsons of the world is gender. 1 star out of 5

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