Lucky Boys Confusion

Commitment

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For its second Elektra effort, Lucky Boys Confusion hacks off its hip-hop jones and tailors its ska tendencies, concentrating on the poppish, punkish sound that defined the best moments of 2001's Throwing the Game. This is a wise move. Single "Fred Astaire" was the best thing about that album, and its dreamboat harmonies, sugar-smack power chords, and propulsive production are all over Commitment. After a dub intro that crams every conceivable cliché of that genre into one weird minute, the Boys accelerate into "Hey Driver." Perfectly meaningless lyrics sung in just the right timbre over a barbed-wire guitar riff and gang vocal dropouts? Yes, it's all here, and as impossibly catchy as you'd imagine. This is the song that you'll catch your father tapping his steering wheel to -- at least until the next Sum 41 single comes out. But that's OK. LBC seems to realize that its niche lies somewhere between the baby brat mall punks and Sugar Ray's jumble of sunny vibes and pop-ternative jingles. To that end, the only real nod to Lucky Boys' third wave past is "Sunday Afternoon," where vocalist Kaustubh Pandav sounds exactly like Mark McGrath, harmonizes with Half Pint, and does so over a sputtering reggae groove that rips off the acoustic guitar twinges that sold a nation on Sugar Ray's "Fly" in 1997. (The weird thing is that it also cops the off-kilter strum of Fred Durst's Method Man collabo on the Bizkit's "N 2 Gether Now," but that's neither here nor there.) Later, "Blame" does try to conjure some college town reggae rumble during the verse. But the band sounds much more comfortable sinking into the cut's blazing punk revivalist chorus. There's nothing -- and that means nothing -- revolutionary about "Hey Driver," "Broken," and "Beware." But they combine snappy, crunchy hooks with Pandav's flair for a vocal melody, and should earn Lucky Boys Confusion a slot on the year 2015's "We Were There, Too!" compilation alongside Reel Big Fish, Bowling for Soup, and Lit.

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