The Hang Ups

The Hang Ups

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On their first outing in four years, Minneapolis' the Hang Ups pick up where they left off on 1999's Second Story. Hang Ups is an album of irresistible melodies, smart lyrics, and near-perfect pop arrangements rooted firmly in the Beatles and the Kinks. With its jumping piano and sweet harmonies, not to mention a heartbreaking falsetto leap on the chorus, "One of These Days" wouldn't have been out of place on Revolver, and melancholy "Avalon" would have fit right in on The Village Green Preservation Society (the fact that Brian Tighe can sound a whole lot like Ray Davies doesn't hurt). It's that melancholy that ultimately gives the Hang Ups' songs their legs; even the most upbeat tunes here ("It's All True," "It's Like It Used to Be") are suffused with a bittersweet quality that make the hooks linger in your mind long after the last fade-out. Teenage Fanclub and the Posies might have achieved more notoriety doing the same thing in the '90s, but they never did it any better than the Hang Ups did then or again do now. (Fans of the Hang Ups early records take note: original drummer and frequent songwriter Stephen Ittner appears on vocals on four of the tracks here, and plays drums on "Blue Residence.")

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