The Black Beauties

Catch a Beat

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The pilled-up, mod-laced punk sound of the Black Beauties' debut album makes it plain that the quintet named itself after the slang term for pharmaceutical speed, not the kids book about a horse. (And just in case anyone was still unclear on the concept, one of the album's most overt love songs is called "PCP to Me.") The Black Beauties clearly want to come across like some sort of freaky mutation of the Small Faces and the New York Dolls -- mono-named singer Canderson has the early David Johansen whine down pat -- but there's a studied quality to the Chicago band's sound that keeps it from hitting that level of wild abandon. Catch a Beat isn't a bad record at all; it's hard to go wrong with stomping three-chord garage punk tunes with titles like "Action Party!" and "Blood in Her Blonde Hair." But Catch a Beat is unfortunately analogous to those contemporary power pop bands whose biggest goal in life is to sound exactly like the 1965 Beatles: the Black Beauties have the pose down cold, but they've misplaced the passion and originality in the process.

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