Earth to Nigel

Run and Jump

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With economy once again the group's goal -- this time around it's 22 songs in 45 minutes! -- Earth to Nigel take it to the kids on its second album, Run and Jump. Oddly, there's already something nostalgic about the whole presentation, whether it's the Bis-worthy semi-manga illustrations of the band in the CD tray (a theme highlighted by the mega-riffing "Japanimation") or just the overall emphasis on life and love seen through everyday metaphors. But if Run and Jump somehow suggests a lost never-never land of '90s indie rock, Earth to Nigel have the field mostly to themselves in a new millennium (especially after Weezer shot holes through their feet and claimed it was art). There's echoes of bands like the Pixies and Green Day and more from the start, to be sure, but that's no reason not to love the chugging stop-start opener "Window Seat." Clinton Maher's lead vocals are merrily backed by his brothers as the need requires, and collectively the four-piece spike up the formula of loud, catchy suburban angst with just the right blend of cool, earnestness and volume. The production is actually one big reason to listen -- it's often got a weird, interesting glazed feeling to it, resulting in more of a studio-enhanced effort than one might think such a release to be. Vocals have a weird but right electronic nag to them, the performances are at once thick, compressed and hollow, if such a thing can be imagined. It's not quite Earth to Nigel's response to the neo-electro/synth-pop underground, but in ways there's a strange sort of connection. Among the many merry-yet-barbed highlights -- "Bang! Went the Car," building up and up to an insistent conclusion (and then immediately followed by the smart, tight riffing of "Perfect Girl"), the skip-and-jump "If Ya Wanna" and the perfectly snotty put down "(I Hate Y'r) Radio Station."

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