Javelin Boot

Fundamentally Sound (Pravda)

Good pop music is a slight of hand best not examined too closely. Look what that did for XTC -- got 'em sacrificed to the intellectuals. That's the same group that slaughtered the Monkees because they didn't really exist -- no matter how good those first few albums were. Poor Brian Wilson lost his mind under the microscope. Which is why you shouldn't try to figure out Fundamentally Sound, a stacked deck of quirky melodies, perfect harmonies, and crisp hooks that draws on 18 years' worth of dealing out ace-in-the-hole covers, yet never turns up an actual R.E.M. tune. Instead, Javelin Boot flashes its Crowded House hole card -- the absolutely perfect "You" and the happily morose "Going Nowhere" -- razzles and dazzles you with good acoustic jangle and toned-down electrics, and evokes every great pop sound from Sixties Mersey beat on. Never mind that the group doesn't cement its own persona or sound, or that the album itself starts breaking up at the midway point of the "Savage Beach" instrumental. Never mind that this savvy Austin trio breaks the long-standing rule of never letting the drummer sing more than one or, at most, two tunes. Never mind all that. Let the illusion work. Half the fun of three-card monte is knowing you're being taken for a sucker.
(2.5 stars) -- Raoul Hernandez

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