The Rosenbergs

Mission: You

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This first proper full-length release by this much ballyhooed band proves that they have more to offer than their highly publicized business decisions. The infectious vocal harmonies, full guitar sound, and tight rhythms all combine to create a formalist's treat for fans of Jellyfish (whose influence is particularly evident on "Drug of Choice"), Posies, Fountains of Wayne, and similar bands. David Fagin has a knack for writing power pop songs with a modern rock sheen; he also has a clear, Robin Zander-esque voice with a good range (demonstrated by his occasionally annoying tendency to go falsetto at the end of certain lines), although the recording of his voice is somewhat flat and trebly. The album's main drawback -- or its main strength, depending on your perspective -- is that it isn't groundbreaking, unorthodox, or even a little idiosyncratic. After a young girl opens Mission: You by singing "ring around the rosies," there isn't anything here that's likely to take listeners by surprise; the pop culture references are dropped discreetly in the lyrics, the long fadeout at the end of Mission: You's sole ballad ("Overborad") is located safely at the end of the album where it won't disrupt the flow of the other songs, and even the recitation of "nya nya nya" in "Houseboat" never risks sounding too whimsical or self-indulgent. This musical cautiousness may seem somewhat disappointing, particularly considering that the band was audacious enough to include a free Napster-sponsored second copy of Mission: You in the CD package. But this is still an entertaining album as long as you're willing to settle for solid pop craftsmanship without demanding that extra spark of creative adventurousness.

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