Cheap Time Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations)

Cheap Time are one of those acts that get off on constantly futzing around with their sound. They're kind of a garage band; they're kind of a pop punk band; they're sort of snotty glam rock revivalists. But mostly, they end up sounding like nothing in particular. Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations) moves through all these obvious influences, but never comes together. Although the hooky chorus of album highlight "Everyone Knows," organ fuzz of "Miss Apartment" and the thumping balladry of closer "Woodland Drive" all click in their own way, they never cohere. It would be one thing if the band were playfully bopping through these sonic landscapes, but no such luck. Instead, each track gives way to the next with the clunky obviousness of a quarter being fed into a jukebox. This worked on their debut, because debuts are supposed to be scrappy. But with no compelling, unified sound, Fantastic Explanations is a tough record to want to revisit. (In The Red)