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Suburban Kids With Biblical Names

The biggest debates in rock music are about the great mimics. The Strokes outlasted comparisons to the Velvets, Coldplay somehow became bigger than Radiohead, and you can't even speak the word Nirvana without thinking the word Pixies. So it's understandable that one of the most refreshing groups to surface this year, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, isn't exactly refreshing. A review of its first full-length, #3, might require only five words: "Swedish version of Magnetic Fields." Singer Johan Hedberg is a near-clone of the Fields' Stephin Merritt. But in great mimic fashion, the album's charming half-acoustic, half-electronic, all-happy folk trumps its American model. "Noodles" is demonstrative bedroom pop — banjos jangle against corrosive flute lines, lo-fi tom bangs, and a surreal yet singable chorus: "Noodles are the smell of denial/You will never grow old." Most of the lyrics are that silly, particularly in "Loop Duplicate My Heart," a whirling, synthy ode to four-track recording, but for the most part, this Swedish duo gets the right balance between goofiness and wit. Take "Parakit," in which Hedberg sings about indie-loving graffiti in his hometown: "The tags are still there, 'Meat Is Murder' and 'Pavement'/I used to wonder... if they meant Pavement the band or if it was just coincidence." Right after those lyrics, a lush, '70s-style shakedown with harmonious cries, chimes, and horns seems to answer his question.

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