The Chubbies

American Swagger

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As the cover photo's triple-exposure indicates, the Chubbies' fourth album, 2000's American Swagger, is actually a one-woman band solo effort by Jeannette Kantzalis. (There's precedent: most of the Chubbies' debut I'm the King was recorded the same way.) Though the songs miss the live-band interplay of the intervening releases, they're among Kantzalis' most consistently tuneful and thought-provoking. It's a rare singer/songwriter who is equally comfortable with the unpretentious social commentary of "Multi-Millionaire" and "Working Class Girls"; the openly vulnerable love song "Don't Say"; and the sly, silly eroticism of the pro-oral sex "You Should Go Down (It Gets Me Higher)." Although the album has a low-key (but not lo-fi) bedroom-pop sound, the songs rock out about as much as they should, and Kantzalis is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, as well as one of the most emotionally expressive singers on the pop-punk scene. The Chubbies are a model of shang-a-lang efficiency and consistency not seen since the early Fastbacks, and American Swagger is yet another great album.

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