Pop Music Reviews : Four Nice Kids With Expensive Toys

Book of Love’s music aims for ripe romanticism, and the band’s stage set at the Palace on Tuesday featured Modigliani-style portraits of the four musicians. But the New Yorkers are anything but aloof glamour icons frozen in a voguish Euro-pop vacuum. More reminiscent of the Little Rascals putting on a show in the garage, these four nice kids with expensive toys projected a happy-go-lucky geekiness to a small but vociferous crowd.

Against the predictable electronic drum/bass thud and microchip percolations, Susan Ottaviano sang romantic ditties like the group’s theme “Book of Love” and ABBA’s “S.O.S.” Ottaviano’s husky sound is remarkable for its tonelessness--technically, she may be one of the worst vocalists in pop music today. But her drop-deadpan delivery conveys an intriguing combination of resignation and longing.

In contrast to Ottaviano’s vocal narcolepsy, Jade Lee, Ted Ottaviano and particularly the spinning, sleigh-bell-ringing, B-52’s wannabe Lauren Roselli ran through an exorcism of “Tubular Bells” like a frantic band of coffee overachievers. So why has this band attracted such a rabid claque? Perhaps it’s their very normalcy, the sense that if they can demystify techo-pop, anyone can do it.