Chris Richards & the Subtractions / Chris Richards

Get Yer La La's Out

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Long one of the unsung heroes of Midwest power pop, Chris Richards made one of the most engaging pop albums of recent memory with 2009's Sad Sounds of the Summer, his first album with his latest backing combo the Subtractions, and Richards and the Subtractions clearly know enough not to fix what isn't broken on 2012's Get Yer La La's Out. Everything that made Sad Sounds a treat is present and accounted for on Get Yer La La's Out -- big guitars that jangle or roar on command, a taut and energetic rhythm section that gives these songs the muscle and drive they need, a dollop of harmonies that give the melodies just the right amount of sweetness without losing the bite, and songs that have soaring melodies and killer hooks. If all this suggests Get Yer La La's Out is just a retread of Sad Sounds, that misses the point: that was a fine album and so is this one, and besides, you can certainly hear that this is a stronger and more confident band that works better together than they did three years ago. Bassist Todd Holmes and drummer Larry Grodsky are tighter and cut a leaner, more potent groove on this material, and there's more swagger and flash in Richards' guitar work, though he thankfully knows when to strut and when to get to the point. And Get Yer La La's Out rocks harder than its predecessor; this is still a pop album first and foremost, but the punch of the performances and the bark of these melodies is tougher, and clocking in at just under half-an-hour, this album makes a virtue of concision, delivering ten portions of high-energy guitar-centric bliss with spirit and panache, and then clearing out before they can be accused of wearing out their welcome. Simply said, Chris Richards & the Subtractions have made two top-notch albums in a row, and if you love power pop, Get Yer La La's Out confirms this band is as good as the Midwest has to offer in the new millennium.

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