If you're a fan of clever, memorable pop (Pavement, Weezer, etc.), then Nothing Painted Blue's Placeholders is the album for you. The band definitely has the strong hooks it takes to reel you in, as well as thoughtful lyrics. Clean, strummed guitar chords merge with tight drumming and simple, anchoring bass on "Rightful Heir," and while the opener, "Couldn't Be Simpler," focuses on plodding fuzz guitar, with a contrasting speedy chorus popping up here and there. "Weak" shows the band's energetic punk-pop in full flight, but tracks such as "Drinking Game" combine early-'80s new wave bass playing with early R.E.M. jangly guitar (picture Peter Buck sitting in with a sedate Gang of Four rhythm section). Other highlights include the made-for-the-stage rocker "Spread Your Poison," the slow and sad "Travel Well," and the almost heavy rock thud of "Ballwalker." And the group adds some nice unexpected touches with use of congas and violin, instruments seldom used in alternative rock. It's understandable why some would label Nothing Painted Blue as "thinking-man's alternative," but with their excellent pop sensibilities, anyone can latch onto their catchy tunes.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato