The Knack

Serious Fun

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Only half of this album title is factually correct, and it's a good thing: a "serious" Knack would be a big mistake. As for the "fun" part, that's right on the money; Serious Fun is an utterly unpretentious slab of power pop that has the emotional depth and artistic merit of a Little Lulu comic book. (One caveat: hearing Doug Fieger's vocals is one thing, but reading the lyrics in the CD booklet and seeing how ridiculously trite they are out of context is another; some bands should never ever print their lyrics.) Musically, the songs are neat little packages of appropriately crunchy guitar hooks and harmonies, with all the Beatlesque elements that make the knack so beloved by their fans and hated by their detractors. The production, by Fieger's old high-school buddy Don Was, is terrific, adding some sorely needed oomph to Prescott Niles' bass and Billy Ward's drums and giving the whole thing a more vibrant presence than any of the Knack's first three albums had managed. The one problem, and it's a biggie, is that over half of these 12 songs break the four-minute mark, when they could easily be shortened by a minute or more, and would gain a lot in the process. As a result of the occasionally tiresome vamping, Serious Fun doesn't manage to be quite as much fun as it could be.

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