Save FerrisModifiedEpic Records

Never really thought much of Save Ferris—local success stories aside, their brand of light, breezy ska pop never stuck to our gizzards. Then we caught 'em at Weenie Roast '98, where they handed in one of the two or three best sets of the day—though we still haven't figured out if that's because the band really was that good or because everyone else on the bill was so ghastly. Regardless, Save Ferris impressed, leaving us quite curious as to how this new disc would turn out.

So, the good: the band begin Modified with a pair of raucous gurgles in “Turn It Up” and “The Only Way to Be,” which go off amid much frenetic turntable scratching meant to signal, we suppose, a fresher, more rock N roll-pumped Save Ferris monster (the latter, in particular, takes a basic skank riff and messes it up nicely with some gnarled guitar parts). Both are just what you expect from the band—nice, cute, fluffy, don't-think-too-hard music that absolutely screams airplay (“Mistaken,” the current radio hit, is doubly so, full of sweet girly-girl ah-ah-ah harmonies that are about the perkiest thing we've felt since the last time our nipples were in Minneapolis in January). “Angry Situation,” in which Monique Powell growl-sings in a royally pissed fashion about her junkie loser boyfriend, also pumps along well, as does “Holding On,” a slab o' positivity that sounds like classic Stax Records R&B, something you could imagine Mavis Staples or Carla Thomas crooning, and the horns sound so soulful it's like they floated in from Memphis.

The not-so-good: “I'm Not Crying for You” and “What You See Is What You Get,” ska tunes that seem really, really tired, neither of which find the band in new terrain and seem like merely an excuse to keep the horn guys busy. And the watery reggae-lite of “No Love” feels a bit too pedestrian, which is just a nice way of saying “boring.” Most of the lyrics are about busted relationships and such—like a kazillion other songs out there.

The ugly: Sell 400,000 copies of your debut, and what happens? “Let Me In,” a schmaltzy ballad that sounds like Gloria fucking Estefan, that's what happens. Mo can flaunt her classically trained voice all she wants, but she should've saved this one for her inevitable solo album. We'll probably enjoy it eventually, though—like, when we're 40. (Rich Kane)

Save Ferris sign copies ofModified at the Wow! Store, 6310 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 598-5001. Tues., 4 p.m.

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