Los Angeles, reject your Whiskeys and your walks of fame,
your Viper Rooms and hair bands and dens of exclusivity.
Dismiss those pay-to-play free-for-all shakedowns as nothing
more than bad ideas and pretend power trips. Child's play is
what it is, and furthermore, there's some honest truth in them
thar Hollywood Hills.
Continue to boast of your winterless winters and infallible
sunshine, for those are the undeniable elements that attract
the rest of us to your magnetic pull of possibilities. Lobby
for the residual side effects such geographic blessings
afford. Count the 88 as a blessing worthy of your boasts.
You can sing so sweetly, Los Angeles, as a band as
wide-eyed and devilish as the 88 proves. You can stomp your
feet in Face to Face tantrums, catch the breeze of
Jackson Browne's reasonable heat or Warren Zevon's surly wit,
and stumble through arena-sized intersections with the
platformed panache of Marc Bolan. Let the 88 show you how.
Over and Over is another collection of robust
California pop songs by the L.A. quintet, a band that
intimately knows the touchstones of British and American rock,
not to mention one whose lead singer (Keith Slettedahl) sounds
like he just stepped off the British Invasion boat. It's a
more confident album than the 88's 2003 debut Kind of
Light: Over and Over tones the muscles of its
predecessor's strengths, bolstering the band's charm with some
"All 'Cause of You" and "Coming Home" pump up the 88's
trademark carefree bounce (on loan from the Kinks' "Sunny
Afternoon", one of many points of reference coursing through
the album's bloodstream) with grit and intensity. The
gleefully acidic "Nobody Cares" salts its barrelhouse romp
with some "Magic Bus" percussion, while "Head Cut Off" makes
instrumental nods to Radiohead and the Beatles via strangled
guitar trills and piano punctuations, respectively. The
record's greatest moments are those when the pop is pushed to
a white-out boiling point: "Bowls", "Everybody Loves Me", and
"Not Enough" turn the infectious into the infected, their
choruses ballooning into unrestrained pomp.
The 88's publicity machine is firing on all cylinders now,
building upon the good homegrown buzz for the band's debut
with song placements in a bevy of television shows. It's a
fairly safe bet to assume that the band will realize a
respectable level of notoriety, the very kind of notoriety
that L.A. is built on. For good reason, too — the 88 makes the
sort of effortless, embraceable pop that can easily flatter
whatever tainted image its hometown harbors. "I've got the
West coast sunshine / But it don't mean a thing," Slettedahl
sings on "Hide Another Mistake". OK, we've got that down; now
go give the rest of the world another reason to wish it lived
in your neighborhood.