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Nothing Rhymes With Orange

It would be too easy to call out Nothing Rhymes With Orange for its lack of originality, for its lowest-common-denominator amalgam of a decade's worth of Brit-pop — from Blur to James to U2 to Coldplay — for its self-seriousness that borders on self-parody. So let's not go there. Instead, we'll call out Nothing Rhymes With Orange for its name: What about "door hinge," dudes? (Thanks, JC.)

The point has been made that being derivative is a matter of course in these post-postmodern musical times. I can allow for that, as long as there's self-awareness (not the same as self-seriousness) involved. The point has also been made that NRWO is very good at what it does. My response: I've been told Velveeta melts all nice and gooey, but I'd rather put real cheddar on my nachos.

Other folks — lots of folks — they love Velveeta. They probably understand the power of Nothing Rhymes With Orange (Stonehenge?) in ways I cannot. On the band's second release, frontman Carl Coccaro has a versatile-enough throat, veering from Tim Booth-ish cheek to Neil Diamondesque intimacy; he sounds best when he tries least, as on the catchy "Just Passing Through" and the plaintive, lyrically inane "Mean" (with a warbled chorus of "Why are you mean to me? I don't know"). Unfortunately, overeffort is a frequent affront here, crystal-clear production anesthetizing would-be pop-rockers like "Like Clockwork" and "Kill the Vibe." It all goes down too smoothly, like milk of magnesia, guaranteeing it won't stay down long.

Huh, weird. In the several spins I've given Hello Mysterious, I've gained a mild degree of affinity for the music. Bet it'll pass after I help myself to this plate of nachos.

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Jonathan Zwickel