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Creeper Lagoon

Once again rock has been readmitted into music's critical ward, with the biz scrambling about for someone to serve as its latest savior, and somewhat unfairly, that mantle has been projected onto Creeper Lagoon's sophomore release, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday. In the face of such expectations, the San Francisco- based band's twin-guitar attack rocks it hooky as only the best airwave manna can -- and with this CD, Creeper Lagoon should be able to reclaim some of the kingdom, given its enviable ability to pop-rock it keenly via big guitars, body-tapping rhythms, and bounce-along melodies.

It's rejuvenating to see a band with Creeper Lagoon's musical chops forgo the aimless jam (save for the seven-minute-long, going-nowhere-fast "Keep from Moving") in favor of tight, four-minute songs that run the gamut from couch-kissing (the fetching "Cellophane") to crotch-kicking (the punch-drunk "Hey Sister") to inner/outer space exploration (the Beta Band-flavored "Lover's Leap"). Throughout Take Back, lead singer-guitarist Ian Sefchick displays a nice, expressive voice that varies between unbridled enthusiasm and pensiveness -- it's one of those that can soothe you and get the party started. Given that most of today's touted platinum-rock acts (Matchbox Twenty, Creed) are so bland that their Styrofoam stylings come across as the pop equivalent of a McDonald's, Creeper Lagoon's stylish ways fly in their face. Nowhere is this better evidenced than on Take Back's balls-out, staggeringly glorious "Wrecking Ball," which plays like the DNA-lab love child of the Bay Area Steves (Jenkins and Malkmus). With this hands-down great rock-radio song, Creeper Lagoon makes you realize what a lost art the catchy melody has become.

Whether Creeper Lagoon (or anyone) can catapult rock 'n' roll to its previous heights remains to be seen. But while Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday may not ultimately save rock 'n' roll, it delivers a much-needed injection.

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D. Michael McLaughlin

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