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Crystal Skulls 

Blocked Numbers (Suicide Squeeze)

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When a guitar pop band gets tagged "timeless," it often means its members have no sense of humor. The Crystal Skulls' debut, Blocked Numbers, has humor, if only of the deeply droll kind normally possessed by four cardigan-clad chaps who wish they were from London. It rains nearly as much in the Skulls' real digs, Seattle, so that must be where the moping and melancholy come from.

Singer Christian Wargo sways in and around the crystalline guitar lines like a good little Morrissey follower, but the "timeless" tag here comes from the fact that Wargo is just as much '30s crooner and '60s niteclub cut-up as Smiths disciple. He earnestly assures a wounded gal pal that "You're not a hussy anymore." And on the CD's apex, "Every Little Bit," Wargo sings, "There's no way we can make it out together" while the final chorus swells, as if all the boo-hoo is really ballyhoo, and lousy relationships are glorious pop inspiration.

The musical "laughs" are shadier still. The peppy, lovely "Weak Spot" ends with Wargo hoping to "get to a place where anything goes"; then the players let their shoulders droop, and a mournful solo trails off. Like their droll mates the Shins, the Crystal Skulls are only as sad as a satisfying rainy day spent spinning your favorite records.

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