**** (out of four)
Catchy songs don’t just materialize out of thin air. Yet local rockers Archie Powell and the Exports crank out clever, crazily infectious songs like it’s no big deal.
Following the great “Skip Work” with another terrific chronicle of everyday problems, APATE gives voice to frustration with remarkable precision. Whether it’s others’ lousy work ethic (“Shooting Spree”), a competitive job market (“Job Fair”) or simply the grind of a schedule that becomes a routine (first single “Metronome”), the record dares you to tap your feet as you shake your head with just how right on Powell’s observations are.
Don’t listen to “Great Ideas in Action” unless you can handle having most of the songs stuck in your head, with the rare double-threat of singable lyrics that actually mean something to you. In “I Need Supervision,” childish competiveness suggests an inability to grow up, while closer “Only So Much You Can Do” provides a levelheaded wake-up call to frantic, unsatisfied youth, courtesy of Chicago’s smartest, most likable cynic.