Record Review 

Peeling out from the garage with Group Sounds, their first album since 1998's RFTC, Rocket From the Crypt return with one of the most tightly engineered examples of their back-to-the-future approach to retro-modern rock 'n' roll in their 10-year career.

Rocket From the Crypt are like a mint-condition vintage car. You can customize their engine and console any number of ways -- some for the better, some for the worse, but from the outside, they still appear to be the same road warriors, still tattooed and sporting matching bowling shirts. But putting on Group Sounds, their first album since being dropped from Interscope, it's apparent that being on new label Vagrant is at the very least pumping them full of a higher-octane fuel.

From the first song, "Straight American Slave," the drums (played for the most part by Superchunk's Jon Wurster) have more width, more depth; the horns have more punch, the call-and-response yelps more spirit. Lead man(iac) Speedo even sings more soulfully, holding, not strangling, as many notes as on previous albums.

RFTC's exhibit newfound exuberance on Group Sounds, a sort of party atmosphere that crosses the entire album. With Group Sounds, there's no better time than the present to hop in for a ride into a revisioned past with Rocket From the Crypt.

By TONY WARE

Rocket From the Crypt play the Echo Lounge Mon., April 9.

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