Shiver, the debut CD from the Vancouver band Rose Chronicles, possessed moments of swooping, dizzying beauty, and the same is true of the group's sophomore release, Happily Ever After. The problem with the new album is that those moments are rarer, and scattered amid plodding, overlong ballads (the seven-minute "Heaven Tide") and aggravatingly shrieky Tori Amos impersonations ("Bruise"). When the band gets on the right track—when singer Kristy Thirsk settles into a swooping, soaring vocal groove—Happily Ever After can be gorgeous and compelling: "Vicious Thorn," "Voice In Jail" and "Krayon" are particularly worthy of note. But too much of the album's remainder is mired in unfocused melodrama, oversinging, and aimless arrangements. It's too bad, because this band still has heaps of potential. Maybe the third album will hit on the near-perfection that seems within Rose Chronicles' reach.

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