Record Review 

Magnapop emerged out of the college-rock movement of the early '90s (which eventually birthed grunge), playing intelligent rock with a decidedly pop bent.

While its self-titled debut showed a catchy quartet with a steady rock drive, a layer of quirk seemed to be sanded off with each subsequent release. First there was the Bob Mould-produced Hot Boxing, which showcased an edgier, chunkier side, and then Rubbing Doesn't Help, whose dark, stormy production obscures much of the music's charm.

With Mouthfeel, the band's first album in almost a decade, Magnapop rediscovers the breezy blend of rock and pop that made its debut so alluring. The infectiously cheery "Pretend I'm There," sounds akin to "Favorite Writer" off the debut, and the jangly, off-beat Southern-pop track, "California," harks back to singer Linda Hopper's first band, Oh-OK, with Lynda Stipe and Matthew Sweet. Indeed, Sweet's sound seems to echo throughout much of Mouthfeel, which frequently purveys a loose, catchy power-pop sound.

It's strange to suggest that more than 15 years after the band's formation it has hit a stride, but the urgent bop, foot-stomping guitar crunch and undeniable melodiousness are pretty insistent in Magnapop's charms.


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