The Sweethearts

Traces of Time (Eccentric Pop Records)

Texas Platters

On the surface, the Sweethearts are the most upbeat, cheerful punk combo in Austin. Three LPs notched since forming in 1998 Brownsville, their outer layer's still sugary enough to induce toothaches such that Traces of Time should have been released by Topps, with a trading card inside each record. Yet peel back the candy-coated sheen veteran producer Mass Giorgini has buffed over these 11 hot-pink, pogo-party anthems and you see that singer Linette Hernandez is draping epic tales of anger ("What'd You Say"), heartbreak ("One Hit Wonder"), and resignation ("Over It") atop husband Ren's chunky guitar chords. There's definitely razor blades hidden in this stash of candy. Once the puro Mexicano "Eres un Hater" rolls in, the couple's Valley-bred Latino heritage comes screaming through with the gang chorus "Órale!" Traces of Time is the record the Go-Go's would've made had they remained a punk band.

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