The Katydids


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With a name like the Katydids and an album title like Shangri-La, you'd probably expect standard-issue jangle pop from this band -- until, that is, you listen closer and realize the title is taken from a song about a dying heroin addict. The song is called "The Boy Who's Never Found," and it opens the album with an unsettling melody and a dark lyrical undercurrent of anger at the waste of life it describes. Things lighten up after that, of course, and the balance of the album does indeed consist mostly of standard-issue jangle pop -- luscious confections like "Seesaw" and "Almost and Nearly." The Katydids may be a bit derivative (there's more than an echo of the Primitives here, for instance), but what's impressive about this group's sophomore effort is its ability to add a new edge to the tired guitar pop genre. Just when you think you're going to swoon with pleasure from the sweet harmonies and hook-filled choruses, you run into something more slippery and ambiguous, like the melody to "Slip Away." Very nice.

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