Angel Du$t Credit: Angela Owens

If you just looked at the pedigree of Baltimore five-piece Angel Dust (often styled with a dollar sign in place of the S) you might think they were a hardcore group—Justice Tripp and Dan Fang also play in Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile, respectively, two of their city’s best-known contemporary hardcore bands. And they initially had a strong handle on the style, but they’ve since polished their rough, explosive punk sound to be almost unrecognizably sleek. On their new major-label debut, Pretty Buff (Roadrunner), Angel Dust transfer the aggressive delivery of hardcore onto acoustic guitar parts ripped from the hands of frat-rockers, delivering the kind of sweet but heavy hooks that were the bread and butter of 90s alternative radio. They do this most successfully on the single “Big Ass Love,” while elsewhere they explore lovesick ballads (“Light Blue”) and employ rock ’n’ roll saxophone squall (“Take Away the Pain”). The results are as euphoric as they are transgressive, and isn’t that what you want out of a hardcore band?   v