Alaska Days

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Despite it's chilly title, Poole's 1995 debut, Alaska Days, is filled with warm bursts of musical sunshine. Similar to other SpinART bands like Apples in Stereo, this D.C. area quartet offers up bright and bouncy tunes filled with jingly guitars and two- and three-part harmonies. Vocalists Harv, Harry Evans, and Jeff Booth ponder the lighter side of adolescence -- fast cars ("Car"), vague idol worship ("Loon"), and the odd high-school crush ("Strawberry Kool-Aid Smile") -- on this self-produced first effort, avoiding adulthood like the average teenager. The lyrics can be immature and adolescent ("Mary Shakes Her Hair"), but the melodies offer refined moments of pure pop genius (same song). Imagine either the most sugary bites of Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend without the overdubs and super slick production, or later Lemonheads albums without the punk rock aspirations, pinned down by a bounding bassline and a crisp backbeat. Poole can match melody and lyrical insight, and does so on occasion ("Oregon"). Unfortunately, they sometimes fail on both accounts, leaving the listener with a lazy, meandering mess ("Snowcicle"). Still, the hits far outnumber the misses, whereas on later albums, the opposite is often true. A few slow spots don't spoil the infectious fun of the happy-go-lucky Alaska Days. It could easily be the indie rock sing-along soundtrack for summer vacation, providing a nice substitute for those who now have to settle for two weeks.

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