The 88 Over and Over

If you are one of the many rushing to your television sets (self-consciously or not) to catch Ryan and Marissa’s exploits on The OC, chances are that you have already been subliminally exposed to the 88, who have smuggled one of their recordings on the hit show’s musical roster. Given The OC ‘s M.O. of raiding sounds from the most accessible end of the indie spectrum, their recruitment of leadoff track "Hide Another Mistake” from the 88’s second album Over and Over seems entirely warranted. The tune is a saccharine pop tart — all major chords, sprightly piano and lines about "the West coast sunshine.” As the rest of the album unravels, it becomes abundantly clear that front-man and songwriter Keith Slettedahl is in possession of a keenly honed ear for melody, drawing as much from Ray Davies as he does from Matthew Sweet. Over and Over regularly marches out a steady procession of gleaming hooks amidst a throng of handclaps and "la-la-la-la” sing-alongs, which offer immediate, cheering gratification. But the band’s marriage of ’60s pop influences with an indie rock sensibility is hardly the most uncommon union. Those familiar "Waterloo Sunset” chord progressions that buoyed the LP to its greatest heights begin to sound mundane and repetitive after the third or fourth listen. With producer Ethan Allen crafting a radio friendly mix that pushes Slettedahl’s capable vocals into prominence, Over and Over is a light, airy confection with a high guilty pleasure factor, but lacking the meaty core that provides true satiation. (Mootron)