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Cremalleras is a solid record when it comes to actual music, but it's also a fence-sitter style-wise, trying to retain enough marketability to stick around the Top Ten while maintaining an indie rock spirit, and while it generally scores on the former -- the album charted in Portugal -- it delivers mixed results on the latter. In fact, the simple idea behind the album seems to be making catchy guitar music without resorting to either the reverb-drenched pomp of U2 or the post-grunge rehash of same. The obvious way to do it is just to play power pop, but Sidecars try to keep their riffs and licks down to earth at the same time, which takes some of the wind out of their sails. A couple of stadium-sized stompers still appear ("Fan de Ti"), but even those don't feel made for large venues -- a couple thousand people at best -- and for the most part, the band seems to look up to the Pixies more than to Weezer, though still tries to be as streamlined as the former. But streamlined does not necessary equal catchy, and that is the case here -- the tunes are neither angular and unexpected like true alt-rock nor big and reckless enough to pound the listener into happy submission: say, Pixies playing Gin Blossoms covers, or maybe college J-rock bands such as the Pillows and Fujifabric, which operate across half the globe to produce music just as polite and energetic as Sidecars. The lack of hooks is relative, of course -- dynamic tunes such as "Después del Fin" are still fun, and the band's occasional dabbling in country sounds much more logical than the Blossoms' own hapless excursions into the style. But the overall outcome on Cremalleras appears strangely less than the sum of its parts, though the parts are well made.

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