ELASTICA, "Elastica" ( DGC/Geffen ) *** 1/2
Any Tom, Dick or Billy Joe can re-create the sound of early-'80s power punk. Reviving the spirit is another matter entirely, and the 16 brash bursts on this young English quartet's debut album have that spirit in spades.
Sure, we've heard it all before: The angular rhythms come straight from old Wire and Fall records, and Justine Frischmann's pointed barbs and no-nonsense delivery are right out of vintage Chrissie Hynde and X-Ray Spex.
Yet this seems fresh. The smart, sassy savagings of losers and poseurs are a refreshing advance from grunge's gloomy self-absorption. A variety of settings and embellishments (the synth lines of "Connection," the ghostly background vocals of "Car Song") fill the album with sonic surprises.
And there's a sophistication to such side trips as the pseudo-mystic "Indian Song" and the cheeky mock advertisement "Vaseline" that shows this to be a band with the ambition and vision--befitting its name--to keep stretching.
What's more, the accents are real.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).