The Saul Glennon Trio 

Music for Three Piece Quartet (Gordon D)

The Saul Glennon Trio, a group from Slavic Village, plays what it calls "baroque-style power pop" on its third album. What the "baroque" part of that tag actually translates to is anyone's guess, but the group, which formed in 1994 and includes singer-guitarist Jack Rugan, drummer Jerry Rugan, and bassist Adam Z, possesses power-pop sensibilities that are often buried beneath off-key vocal harmonies and sloppy production. The band, which takes its name from an old Batman comic book, writes songs with just enough hooks to suggest that its songwriting skills are quite solid despite its lo-fi approach.

At times, Jack Rugan stretches out his syllables to the point that he's annoying. On the opening track, "The Big Swan Dive," which clocks in at just over a minute and ends with the sound of snoring, Rugan sings "Suddenly, I'm faaalling for yooou" as if he's in slow motion. His vocals sound hoarse and off-key in songs such as the XTC-like "The Next Morning" and "Hang on Tight." As rough as some of these tracks sound, they're still well-written power-pop tracks that reveal the band's Beatles influence. With their hoarse background vocals, horns, haphazard guitars, and keyboards that don't quite mesh, the raucous "Futura" and "Emily Flower" sound like leftovers from a drunken Guided by Voices session. Other highlights include "The Mid-day Sun," a song that could pass for '80s pop (something by the Cars), and "Melody's Own," which has a Posies-like ring to it. The sounds of laughter and screams inserted randomly at the end of some songs suggest this album, which includes 20 songs, was carelessly thrown together -- but its lack of pretension is partly what makes it so likable.


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