Solid Frog

Pepper Spray

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By distilling the exceptional elements of their first album into a lean, streamlined package, Solid Frog's second album, Pepper Spray, represents a considerable artistic step forward for the group. Not only does the band sound tighter, but throughout the album the hooks are stronger and the songwriting is cleaner and more succinct. Solid Frog's forte lies with crafting magnificently sunny choruses, and there is no short supply in this collection of songs -- "Goin' Pro," "I Bum," "Telluride," and the title track all feature wonderfully catchy refrains. In fact, the only place where the album loses steam is on the plodding "Feardom"; subtract this track, and one would have a nearly faultless Solid Frog album. Like its predecessor, Supercoat, the lyrics still tend toward the cheeky -- lead singer Andy Patalan (furthering his penchant for penning football-obsessed lyrics) details the heroics of running back Barry Sanders in "I Bum," while guitarist Kyle Neely takes over the vocal duties and manages to wrap up every muscle car cliché into four comical minutes on the uncredited final track, "Trans Am." With this band, the lyrical content hardly matters anyway, since the words always take a back seat to the music that truly propels the entire vehicle. These elements, along with Solid Frog's seemingly uncaring regard for following popular currents, are what make Pepper Spray such a refreshing listen.

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