Tonight in Seattle:  

Crown Aruba — alotisalot

{7.4}

{Unsmashable Records}

From early-Wire angular to Beat Happening twee, local Seattle four-piece Crown Aruba cleverly scoop the cream from several styles to deliver an infectious debut that is pure indie pop. The vocal throwbacks to Sebadoh, the Guided By Voices guitar crunch, and the crisp, papery drums all evoke the lo-fi alt-rock of the mid-90's, but the band displays just enough new-new wave smarts (check the very aughties deadpan "Sexy Robot") to ensure that the CD isn't a retread.

alotisalot proves that Crown Aruba are already experts in writing short, super-catchy songs. One listen will lodge songs like "alotisalot" and "Holding Hands" in your head — and you'll want to keep them there. And the fact that most of these songs are so short (less than three minutes) is even more impressive: standout "Cat, Kitten" packs a singalong "ba-da ba-da" hook, a dreamy instro break, and a sharp chorus all in two minutes and 16 seconds. When the band does stretch out, they dive into moodier, droning atmospheres that swirl with reverb and fuzzy guitar.

Music-obsessed indie kids that they are, Crown Aruba are suckers for out-of-left-field pop culture references. The title track's "Gunter glieben…" count-off is {of course} lifted straight from Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages;" the dryly delivered, "I just wanna Wang Chung tonight" lyric in the chorus to "Drum Machine" perfectly reinforces the song's good-time-with-irony manifesto.

Not all is sunny and cheerful, however. The prickly guitar and distorted vocals of "Pity Eyes" complements the sharp distance between the two people arguing in the song ("Don't want your pity eyes"). At other times, the songs are even more ambiguous: the boy-girl vocal interplay in "Side of My Heart" could either be a volley of impatient barbs, or awkward love talk. The droll delivery brings to mind "Dirty"-era Sonic Youth.

Obviously big fans of pop and alt-rock styles of the past, Crown Aruba sum up their aesthetic in the song "Old Man Ballard:" "There's a lot to say about the old days…"

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