Pop is quietly making a comeback. Who woulda thunk it? With ballyhooed new platters from the likes of Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, and Josh Rouse, pop bands are no longer feeling obliged to make sure they include elements of country/folk/roots-rock/hip-hop/death-metal in their three-minute gems. That spells good news for Admiral Twin.
These frisky young lads from Tulsa, Oklahoma, specialize in the kind of music that is a bit too smart to be called pop, but far too catchy to be called anything else. The key to the band's appeal lies in the soaring three-part harmonies -- provided by bassist Mark Carr and guitarists John Russell and Brad Becker. (Drummer Jarrod Gollihare rounds out the quartet.) On songs such as "The Unlucky Ones" and "Better Than Nothing at All," the choruses wash over the listener in seductive waves. The flourishes of instrumentation here are simple but surprisingly supple. "No. 1 Fan" features crisp drum sequencing and a rapid crescendo of strings. Russell provides some spooky organ riffs, which lend "Another Day" a delightfully haunted feel.
As to subject matter, the band does best in the traditional province of pop bands, which is to say lost love. The departures here are fairly disastrous. (The hollow gravitas of "Veterans' Day" is matched in absurdity only by the art-rock pretension of "Eustice & Isadore.") That said, when Admiral Twin plays within its game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a catchier combo.