Lava Baby

Big Muff

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Like Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, and the Go-Go's, Lava Baby exudes sex appeal wrapped in powerful pop melodies. With tight harmonies, catchy tunes, no-frills up-tempo arrangements, and unabated enthusiasm, this band of three girls and two guys never strays far from the verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus song structure that has stood as the foundation of rock & roll ever since Ed Sullivan banned Elvis' pelvis on national television. Sure the guitars are turned up and the rhythm section is whip-smart, but the secret weapon on this disc is Jen Salzman's keyboard. Whereas most basic rock ensembles rely on guitar solos or twisted blues riffs, Salzman tosses in cute synth lines and acoustic piano voicings that embellish each song with charm and Brill Building appeal, especially on "Do It Tonight." There's sex ("Valentine"), sex ("Sex Junkie"), sex ("Bye Bye My Love"), and a spirited sexy cover of Neil Finn's Split Enz classic "I Got You." The final cut, "She Loves You," is the kind of ballad one would expect from Joni Mitchell had she grown up listening to the Ramones. Those who don't like this record probably don't like rock & roll.

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