Simon & Milo

Ready Ready Set Go

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North of the U.S.-Canadian border, this animated duo is known as Prozzäk, and they're stars, thanks to their inventive and humorous videos (shown regularly on MuchMusic, Canada's homegrown equivalent of MTV) and ultra-catchy synth pop songs. In the U.S., Prozzäk's first album, 1998's Hot Show, was a stiff, and the follow-up, 2000's Saturday People, never even came out. Sensing that they could do a better job with the duo than their original U.S. label, the Disney-owned Hollywood label signed Prozzäk, changing their name to Simon and Milo (Simon is the lead singer with the exaggerated British accent, and Milo is his mostly mute Austrian buddy who plays the guitar; in real life, they're Jason Levine and James McCollum, respectively) and remixing tracks from both albums to reintroduce the pair to the Radio Disney demographic. What's noteworthy is that Simon and Milo appeal to another age group as well, those old enough to look back fondly on the early days of MTV and the parade of British synth pop groups that were its first stars. Levine and McCollum, who are also members of the Canadian soul-pop band the Philosopher Kings, invented Simon and Milo on their main group's tour bus as a reflection of their continued fondness for the disposable chart pop of their youth. Songs like the hyperactive "Omobolasire" and the unforgettable "Sucks to Be You" are built on layers of vintage synths and acoustic guitars, sounding like early Thomas Dolby on a laughing gas jag. Even more gimmicky tunes like "It's Not Me It's You," built on The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies from The Nutcracker Suite, and "www.nevergetoveryou.com" have the unapologetically giddy bounce of a classic early Bananarama single. The one point where things get more treacly than sweet is the cloying "Be As," a cheerleading self-reliance seminar that resembles Vitamin C's equally icky "Graduation Day," but even that has a really catchy chorus. It may be more of a guilty pleasure for some listeners than others, but Ready Ready Set Go is a pure-pop blast.

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