Little Champions

Transactions + Replications

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The follow-up to Pillow is equally full of quirk and equally enamored of prime B-52's, which is super or merely quaint, depending on your affection for that band. Sometimes the music sounds like the brainchild of new wave-loving math nerds (the wonderful "Whöreck"), sometimes you can hear sunshine pop in the harmonies of siblings Becky and Scott Harbine, and sometimes they sound like goofball kids doing dueling playground chants over calliopic indie rock ("Beverly"). The melodies are often loopy and twee in entirely delightful ways ("Half Inhaled") or in downright kooky ones that leave you scratching your head at the intentional weirdness. But the songs almost always sound like they are being invented on the spot. No matter what they start out seeming to be, you never know where the songs will go or what they'll come out sounding like. Each one commences and then seems to invent itself as it progresses in what might more appropriately be called "kitchen-sink rock." The arrangements are relentlessly inventive, if often too cluttered for their own good. "The Idiot Seat," for instance, opens with a wicked blues riff but immediately cuts the knees out from under it with a cheesy, slinky spy-theme bassline. The song moves through crash-and-burn post-punk but then turns into Cyndi Lauper covering a Gary Glitter tune -- and that's all in the first minute. For all its eccentricities, the album is at its most interesting on the more drawn-out, less overtly dork-like songs, as with the languid, almost space rock "Kind Radio" and the inebriated, reverb-thick "Guitar Suff." Transactions + Replications is at the most ramshackle and whimsical end of post-grunge Northwest pop; an interesting collage -- or collision, as it were. It can be entirely too cute at times, but it will always keep your ears on their toes.

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