Fluid Ounces

In the New Old-Fashioned Way

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Nonsensically named after a line from Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," the second album by Murfreesboro, TN, pop quartet Fluid Ounces mostly stays just to the right side of way-too-clever. It occasionally tips over, as on the hyperactive, XTC-like "Marvel Girl," but most of the songs are smart and smart-alecky piano rock. More like June & the Exit Wounds (although unfortunately inferior to that group) than Ben Folds Five, Fluid Ounces bear more than a passing resemblance to Todd Rundgren's poppier '70s work, and there's also a little Steely Dan, especially in leader Seth Timbs' jazz-tinged piano solos (during the solo in "Eleven:Eleven," Timbs quotes Thelonious Monk extensively). Meanwhile, Timbs' witty, logorrhea-prone lyrics recall those of Fountains of Wayne crossed with the Loud Family. It's all quite impressive, but Timbs and company seem to be trying a little too hard at times and, while the album is entirely likable, it's also a little tiring after a few songs.

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