Teenage Kicks

Finally! A band that looks good in gym shorts

It may appear to be named after a Beatles song, but Huntington Beach, California,'s HelloGoodbye claims its name was lifted from an episode of the inexplicably popular kiddie-sitcom Saved by the Bell. That's about as far off the Magical Mystery Tour as you can get. And it's the sort of trash-culture reference that divides music fans into two groups — those who shop at Urban Outfitters for ironic T-shirts (Elmer's Glue!) and, well, everyone else.

HelloGoodbye's schtick is geared toward the former. But hey, it's all in the name of fun. The band's leader, Forrest Kline, is admirably having a good time making sure his fans are doing the same. HelloGoodbye's self-titled debut effort on Drive-Thru Records is a mini-album filled with angst-free ditties like "Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn" and "Jesse Buy Nothing Go to Prom." Think of it as the happier side of being 16. The kitsch is all part of the show.

The band's sound can be described as teen pop adorned with plinkity-plink electronics and herky-jerky rhythms right out of Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough." For the most part, it's reminiscent of any number of third-string 1980s new wave bands. Not real new wave bands like Devo but the sort of manufactured new wave that populated the soundtrack of many a John Hughes film. But that's not to say there aren't a few modern sounds thrown into the mix too — sounds the band attributes more to old Nintendo games than synth bands. And in keeping with the band's love of irony, it's interesting to note that for all the '80s nostalgia, the music sounds most influenced by bands like Fountains of Wayne and Bowling for Soup, both formed in the mid-'90s.

So if you prefer Screech to Ringo and would rather play Donkey Kong than "Strawberry Fields Forever," HelloGoodbye is one band that proves more fun than a barrel of digital monkeys. Spam!


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