The Fontanelles

Init

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    6
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The Hollywood-based Fontanelles wrote and produced -- along with John Vitale -- some of the best alternative pop around for their debut, Init. With powerful vocals, trippy lyrics, and complicated production, they roffer rock that is raw without being as self-conscious as grunge or as over-the-top as arena rock. While the band backs them up with bleak, mid-tempo arrangements, Tina Staples, singing lead on most of the cuts, sounds like a cross between Belinda Carlisle, Margo Timmins (especially on "Butterfly"), and Kate Pierson, and Chris Staples, sharing lead vocals, sounds like a combination of Nick Cave and a less nasally, and, thus, less grating, Fred Schneider, and the result is a darker B-52's, a smarter Blondie, the Go-Go's with an edge. Kicking off with the queer, catchy "Einstein," the group lets you know right off that they're not a candy pop band, though their sensibilities lean strongly in that direction; Init is murky and thoughtful, dark and smart. Solid almost throughout, the last couple of songs are, however, so murky they become not as interesting and almost lethargic. That doesn't keep this from being a strong debut, though, that is a surer and far more durable album than those of most their peers who had the backing of major record labels.