The only thing that the Figgs haven't done over the course of their nearly 15-year career is make a major impact on the musical landscape. The band -- guitarist Mike Gent, bassist Pete Donnelly, and drummer Pete Hayes -- has been an amazingly low-key force in the pop/rock underground, scoring great reviews and inspiring slavish fan worship while skating from label to label. The band has had a couple of near misses over the years, most notably its major-label debut, Banda Macho
, which came out on Capitol in 1996. After an almost ridiculous number of one-off, now-collectible singles and eight full-length albums for almost as many labels, the New York-via-Boston trio has finally produced its magnum opus, a devilishly listenable concept album titled Sucking in Stereo
, for the fledgling Boston label HearBox.com
. Freshening the shopworn idea of an album about the rigors of being in a band, Sucking in Stereo
combines every influence with which the Figgs have ever been remotely associated, from the swagger of the Stones to the raw garage sonics of the Replacements, with touches of pop geniuses such as Todd Rundgren, Ray Davies, and Elvis Costello. Sucking in Stereo
isn't likely to be the album that breaks them to a wider audience, but they know it, singing "You'll be ignored, playing the wrong chord" in "The Wrong Chord." And yet no one is having a better time playing the lounges on the edge of obscurity than the Figgs.