The Briefs

Off the Charts [Dirtnap]

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On Off the Charts, the Briefs offer a plucky update of late-'70s British punk types like the Undertones and the Rezillos. It's all pointy elbows and spiky two-chord guitar lines here, and it's all undercut with a jokey, almost self-parodying air that almost makes it OK to sound this much like so many bands and still be pretty great. Highlights include "We Americans" ("God bless the f*cked-up U.S.A.!" smarmy singer Daniel J. Travanti screams), the wiry, pipe-cleaning guitar action of "22nd Century Man," and the irrepressible single "(Looking Through) Gary Glitters Eyes," which subverts the Adverts and hams up the classic practice of U.S. punk revivalists singing in British accents by doing the same thing, only with purposely bad overcompensation. The Briefs are undoubtedly a load of live fun. And Off the Charts is certainly an energetic, investment-free listen (there's only one song over three minutes, and that's the effortless Attractions-meets-Supergrass breeze of "Tear It in Two," a surefire second single if there ever was one). Still, the album's dismissive quality is a bit nagging, because it suggests the Briefs don't actually care about their own music. Oh well. The Adverts didn't really care about theirs, either.

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