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Freudian Corduroy

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The debut album by British quartet IST skips merrily through a variety of sounds and attitudes, from the sardonic riff rock of "Boyfriend" (which sounds rather like a more profane Fountains of Wayne) to the moody '80s college rock jangle of "Dust," without ever really settling on one. Singer/guitarists Kenton Hall and Jack Bomb show a high level of agility when it comes to writing catchy tunes, but little on Freudian Corduroy really connects with the listener. There's an archness to this album that's a bit off-putting in the same way that Pulp albums sometimes can be, a nagging sensation that Hall and Bomb were rolling their eyes in the vocal booth as if the album is a series of deadpan put-ons. The group's second album, 2005's King Martha, was made with a retooled lineup and a seeming commitment to one particular style, a kind of wry neo-Steely Dan adult pop, and it was a far better record. There are hints of IST's future ability on Freudian Corduroy, but they're somewhat buried.

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