The Minus 5 / The Young Fresh Fellows

Let the War Against Music Begin/Because We Hate You

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There's a certain genius to Scott McCaughey's double-barreled attack of the Minus Five and Young Fresh Fellows' split album Let the War Against Music Begin/Because We Hate You, since it not only recalls the record geek's beloved vs. albums of the '50s/'60s, it tacitly acknowledges that anyone buying one record will certainly buy the other. Still, this approach puts his shortcomings in sharp relief, particularly on the Minus 5's Let the War Against Music Begin, which makes a convincing argument that the Beach Boys (or perhaps more accurately, Sean O'Hagan) ruined alt-pop. Yeah, there's a certain amount of "craft" behind this stuff, but the mock Pet Sounds/Smile excursions are deadly convoluted, as is the arty posturing -- borrowing equally from psychedelia, Velvet Underground, and underground humor, much like Loud Family and to a lesser extent Chris Stamey -- that closes the record, highlighted by Robyn Hitchcock's "Your Day Will Come." The Minus 5 record really works when it gets close to power pop, such as "Got You," the sprightly "You Don't Mean It," and the wistful "A Thousand Years Away." McCaughey devotes the Young Fresh Fellows to this kind of pop, and if it isn't as self-consciously "imaginative" as the Minus 5, it's far more satisfying. If nothing winds up being as much fun as the cover of Boyce & Hart's "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," that just proves that this is the record geek's dream band, where it's as much fun to rave through your favorite bubblegum tunes, write jokes, devote a tune to a Krispy Kreme waitress, harmonize, and directly address (and mock) your audience that diligently reads the liner notes. This is a kaleidoscope of pop culture arcana and it's witty too -- witness how the teen rocker "My Drum Set" is tweaked with sitar, thereby blending garage and psychedelia, the two most beloved subgenres of record collectors. It's pure, simple, hard rocking, giddy fun. In this battle of the bands, the winner is clear.

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