astroPuppees

You Win the Bride

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    5
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Strongly reminiscent of both mid-period Marshall Crenshaw and the cult-adored '80s pop/rockers Wednesday Week, the Astropuppees make a low-key, slightly country-tinged form of power pop that doesn't leap out of the speakers but subtly ingratiates itself with the listener over the course of a few spins. It's all in the details, like Kelley Ryan's sardonic second vocal track that runs subtly through the length of the opening "Underdog," commenting on both the subject of the song and her own lead vocals, or like Teri Ryan's keening high harmonies on the jangleriffic "She Can't Say No." Although the Astropuppees were nominally a duo at the time, second member Maureen Serrano only appears on six of the album's 15 tracks, providing appealing lead vocals on two of those: "Lower the Line" and "It's Not Me, It's Her." Most of You Win the Bride is a Kelley Ryan solo album, a status that would become official with this album's much improved follow-up, 1998's Pet. Ryan's songs are sturdily melodic, and she has a nice slightly rough voice that recalls Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo. Unfortunately, the album could stand some re-sequencing, since there's a long stretch of rather samey solo recordings in the middle of the record, including a dreary cover of Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You." Drop that bit of pointlessness and shuffle the remainder so that there's more track-to-track variation and You Win the Bride improves considerably.

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