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The 88
Power-pop quintet has all the keys to catchy tune.
The 88
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While LA-based quintet The 88 prefer tight business suits and even tighter musical arrangements, everything else -- from their Motown-style backups to their whimsical tambourines -- reveals a band wholly at ease with playful power pop. These guys could teach a boatful of champion anglers a few things about hooks, as blithe and bouncy tracks like 'How Good It Can Be' and 'Sunday Afternoon' yank audiences headlong into their first album, 'Kind of Light.' Although several tunes explore songwriting's well-trampled roads of addiction and recovery, lead singer Keith Slettedahl (who knows a thing or two about both) has enough vocal buoyancy to pin the habit right back on his fans, many of whom have already swapped their bottles of Dewar's for copies of the band's debut release. Situated somewhere between Weezer's Rivers Cuomo and The Band's Robbie Robertson, Slettedahl seems most at home in that whispery way-station between octaves, especially when forcefully backed by guitarist Brandon Jay and keyboardist Adam Merrin, who palm mute, power chord and pipe organ their contributions to The 88's infectious, instantly hummable riffs. Rounding out the troupe's flush sound are bassist Carlos Torres and drummer Mark Vasapolli, who anchor the compositions with synchronized breaks and changes. Here's a band of musicians who care enough about their songcraft to actually listen to one another play. More refreshingly, they do it all without the dentist chair scowls en vogue with bands who've forgotten that rock and roll is supposed to be fun. -- Jeremy Horelick   (Photo: Pictured: The 88)

Music: Pop, Rock

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