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Hey Willpower

Scottish indie rock act Bis' overtures were expressed rather neatly in its 1997 single "Tell It to the Kids": "And now, coming through the airwaves into your home/Introducing the new transistor heroes." San Francisco's Hey Willpower lacks a similar expressive salutation, but it shares Bis' affinity for trash culture, "kandy pop," and smug phrasing.

Hey Willpower eschews any sense of adult maturity. The group's debut release, P.D.A., is full of enough lyrical piffle to convince you that chief songwriter Will Schwartz (who also plays in Imperial Teen) would draw just as much joy assembling a monkeys' tea party as he would pop songs. From "Magic Window": "With you, my work is never done/Be there from Lent to Ramadan" and "I can make you scream/I'm better than a Krispy Kreme."

The six-piece outfit works within simple dance-pop parameters. The dinky, ebullient melody of "Hundredaire" mimics the Wake's "Crush the Flowers" or Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson is hinted at in the disco textures and breathy background vocals of "Not Trippin'." Electronic musician Tomo Yasuda ensures that P.D.A.'s bass throbs and that its rhythms titillate, but any carnal dance-floor tension is quickly sapped by Schwartz, whose preteen sex metaphors rank somewhere between trip-hop artist Earthling and Paul Stanley of Kiss. Immaturity isn't necessarily a sin, but when it's used to mask the fact that you have nothing interesting to say... well, that's a strike against any new transistor hero.


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