The first song on local four-piece Popcycle's likable if not wildly interesting latest album is called "Led Star," presumably in reference to the nicely bashed-out song's equal debt to bands fronted by Bob Plant and Al Chilton, respectively. "Cheap Stones" might also have worked, though perhaps such a title would have pushed the self-effacement too far. But probably not; Popcycle, who on other tunes evoke Neil Young, early Silos, middle Replacements, and other flannel-shirted fare, are nothing if not modest, from Scott Peterson's every-(aging Midwestern rock-loving)-man lyrics to the band's very live-sounding meat-and-potatoes performance.
Singer, rhythm guitarist, and occasional pianist Peterson's studies of family life ("It's All Right"), the Minneapolis rock scene ("Local Smoke"), and other close-to-home subjects don't yield many penetrating insights. He does come up with some zingy one-liners, my favorite being "never punch a gift horse in the mouth." I'm less supportive of wordplay like "don't let the door hit your derrière on your bum's rush to the savoir faire," but then again, I don't speak French. GuitaristJeff Johnson takes his lead role seriously, and has some of Bob Stinson's ability to squeeze in a lot of fills and leads without getting in the singer's way. The group takes a slight and successful detour with "Reassuring Words," a swaying '50s-rooted tune in the mode of "Earth Angel," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," and loads more. Mostly, though, the group sticks to built-for-bars guitar rock, and quite effectively argues that spending one's free time in pursuit of a song good enough to appear on the theoretical fifth side of Exile on Main Street remains a worthy pursuit.
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