Susanna Hoffs / Matthew Sweet

Under the Covers, Vol. 1

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Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have always displayed an unapologetic love of '60s pop in their own music, and they even teamed up as part of the pop supergroup Ming Tea to record the terrific "BBC" for the first Austin Powers film, so the duo's 2006 album, Under the Covers, Vol. 1, feels logical and right. With this record, the two -- who have adopted the name "Sid N Susie," although this only appears on the inside of the CD's booklet and on their MySpace page -- tackle 15 classic pop and folk-rock tunes from the '60s (well, the Bee Gees' "Run to Me" is from 1971, but its heart is in the '60s). Their selections, a mix of familiar oldies and beloved cult classics, display exceptionally good taste: it's a mix of the Beatles ("And Your Bird Can Sing"), Bob Dylan ("It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"), the Beach Boys ("The Warmth of the Sun"), the Who ("The Kids Are Alright"), the Mamas & the Papas ("Monday, Monday"), and Neil Young ("Cinnamon Girl," "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"), plus Love ("Alone Again Or"), the Zombies ("Care of Cell #44"), the Velvet Underground ("Sunday Morning"), Fairport Convention ("Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"), the Stone Poneys ("Different Drum"), the Left Banke ("She May Call You Up Tonight"), and the Marmalade ("I See the Rain"). Not a bad song in the bunch, and the band -- a rotating lineup largely comprised of Sweet mainstays including drummer Ric Menck and guitarist Greg Leisz, plus guitarist Richard Lloyd and keyboardist Van Dyke Parks, both appear on a couple of tracks a piece -- relish playing songs that they clearly love, since they never reinterpret the songs, or even play around with the arrangements. The affection that Sweet, Hoffs and company display for this music is the reason to hear this record: they're having such a good time playing their favorite songs, it's hard not to smile along as well. And if that doesn't make for a major record, it certainly makes for a likeable one.

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