The Davenports

Hi-Tech Lowlife

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It's logical that a good deal of the best power pop songs revolve around seemingly trivial concerns, since it's everyman's music, designed to appeal to average Joes and Janes. Bono-like bombast and concern for world order would sound out of place on such intentionally small records, whereas a somewhat more humble Kinks-ian fascination with manicured lawns and the daily mail fits just perfectly. The Davenports' second record, Hi-Tech Lowlife, fits this criteria, as Scott Klass' songs revolve around regular folks. "Everyone's Talking About Baseball" is about a guy named Andy who'd rather listen to Queen than, well, do what the title of the song says, "Hi-Tech Lowlife" is about a man who builds the ultimate home theater system to watch porn in the utmost detail, and the bizarrely gorgeous "Whore for the Holidays" focuses on a woman who drinks too much at office Christmas parties, with the result of embarrassing affairs. Obviously these lyrics consciously recall Fountains of Wayne -- who, like the Davenports, also hail from the New Jersey suburbs, and whose "Bright Future in Sales" follows an uncannily similar plot line to the aforementioned "Whore..." -- but both bands offer some of the most lyrically and musically rich modern guitar pop and, despite some similarities, occupy different places at the table. Klass prefers arrangements that are somewhat scruffier and more "indie," though he also doesn't shy away from giving the title track a glossy, almost ELO-derived mix stuffed with disco beats and strings, or layering so many harmony vocals onto "Whore for the Holidays" that it almost sounds like the '60s output of the Hollies or the Zombies. And perhaps via his incisive lyrics, he also manages to create the kind of "insiders only" pop record that would alienate those Joes and Janes who would normally like such sunny, catchy music. But it's no worry, because this was written by and for people who appreciate such cutting, take-no-prisoners observations that simultaneously celebrate and poke fun at their own worlds.

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