There is hardly a more simple formula for writing catchy songs than the one perfected by the Hopefuls: Keep everything light and lean. Even though most of the songs are about relationships and their inherent conflicts, there's no reason to get all mopey about it. It's been a long wait for the follow-up to 2005's The Fuses Refuse to Burn, but it seems the wait was worth it, as the self-effacingly titled Now Playing at the One-Seat Theatre is catchier, tighter, and not as intentionally corny, elevating the song quality and lessening the guilty-pleasure factor. Song after song makes an attempt to be the one that really sticks in your brain, but they all are fighting a losing battle—much like a New Pornographers album, it's a lost cause trying to determine which one has the best hooks. Today it's "Virgin Wood," tomorrow it's something else, the day after that a different one still. That's the beauty of a band like the Hopefuls: They aren't trying to do anything to set themselves apart from the pack, and in doing so they set themselves apart anyway. Like so many standout power-pop bands before them, they've managed to find a vein of fertility in some well-tilled ground. With Chris Koza and One for the Team. 18+.
Sat., Dec. 20, 6 p.m., 2008