Con Law

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Did the Generationals invent a time machine, zoom back to the mid-'80s, and bring their debut album Con Law back with them? Probably not, but you have to hand it to Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer -- the vintage "alternative pop" influences of their music sound so natural and unaffected that it's tempting to imagine they simply found some unknown product of the era -- when this sort of hooky but angular, nasal-voiced music was all the rage -- through a wrinkle in time, and passed it off as their own work before it could find its way into heavy rotation on 120 Minutes. Joyner and Widmer clearly recall that folks who were into such things also liked to dance, and there's a solid R&B undertow lurking beneath the surfaces of songs like "When They Fight, They Fight," "These Habits," and "Bobby Beale," and the electronic accents on the latter aren't the least bit out of place, even though most of the tracks have a more organic sound and feel, from the horns on "Nobody Could Change Your Mind" to the acoustic guitars and brushed snare drums of "Faces in the Dark." Though the Generationals officially comprise only two people, the sound and feel of Con Law is spacious and lively, and producer Daniel Black and a handful of guest musicians have helped to give the recordings just the right amount of polish, and allowed the arrangements to bring out the fine details of the melodies. And it's the melodies that are really the key to Con Law -- the Generationals clearly know how to work their college rock obsessions, but their songs are good enough to not suffer in comparison to the vintage acts they so clearly love, and that's why this debut is worthwhile, even if you're not nostalgic for the era of the sideways haircut.

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