The Katydids


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The Katydids are another recent English development, and manage, without trying too hard, to be a mixture of a '60s songbird band, heavy on the not-quite-finished pop-type numbers about love and life, and the Pretenders. The latter is suggested initially by the fact that vocalist Susie Hug is an expatriate American. The Katydids lean less on the jagged rhythms favored at one time by the Pretenders, however, and more on the hook-laden acoustic-driven folk-pop of the other influences (sounding at times remarkably like the Bangles). Hug's voice isn't the greatest going -- her range is limited, and her pleasure in singing, along with nicely tuned harmonies, seems to be the thing that props her up -- but in the context of the songs, it's very much a case of good enough. Producer Nick Lowe knows how to turn this sort of stuff out without batting an eyelash, and he's done the band proud, balancing everything nicely and giving them a very natural, friendly, sound (complete with a few rough edges here and there from the famed Nick Lowe "fix it in the mix" technique of doing as much as possible in one take). The biggest problem with the album, really, is that it's something of a rehash -- it's been heard before -- and the vagueness of the Iyrics is often detrimental, especially when the songs are character songs like "Dr. Rey" or "Miss Misery," both of which start to tell stories and go nowhere. On the other hand, there are songs like "Lights Out (Read My Lips)," which manages to both play coy and be sexy. "Growing Old," too, manages to be very affecting because of its combination of simple folkiness and a lyric that's half in Japanese. This debut from the Katydids, then, is far from perfect, but promising and delightful to listen to.

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