Anaheim’s Thee Makeout Party! (obligatory exclamation point, as if they were a Shania Twain single) released their full-length debut way back in June, a more innocent time, when the economy was merely lousy and the world hadn’t yet experienced the joy of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. But it’s never too late to sing the praises of a good record, and Play Pretend certainly qualifies.
Thee Makeout Party!—following in the tradition of such Thee bands as ’60s Chicano rockers Thee Midniters and Billy Childish’s Thee Headcoats—play quirky pop, like the Apples in Stereo with a slightly rougher edge. The garage-y “Wreckless Epic,” originally released a few years back as a 7-inch, bursts with infectious energy; when they sing “I wanna step outside,” you’ll want to, too, in that Brady Bunch/“Sunshine Day” kind of way. The next track, the similarly long-time-in-the-making “2 Ez 2 Luv U,” is spelled like a Prince song, but is much more British Invasion, down to the harmonies and “buh-buh-buh-buhs.”
Many of the songs clock in at around two minutes (hey, if it worked for “Yesterday,” why not?); typically, these are novelty-type tunes such as “My Birthday Suit” and the 53-second sprint “Run Kitty Run,” which make for fun and flimsy filler. This carefree attitude is further evidenced in “Change,” which—cleverly!—paraphrases Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” for a portion of its lyrics. More straight-forward efforts such as “Good Girl @ Home” also satisfy.
Power pop has never been the hippest genre, and it’s especially hard to find good new stuff from it these days (hey, it’s been almost 30 years since Cheap Trick at Budokan). Play Pretend is a gift for anyone with a taste for sugary melodies and big hooks, even if it’s one we were late in discovering.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and decent high-resolution photos (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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