Wheatus Wheatus

You have to really feel for Wheatus. Theoretically, they should have reached a captive audience during the past month, thanks to one of their songs ("Teenage Dirtbag") turning up in a summer movie. Except that the movie in question was Loser and nobody really went to see it. Still, they do manage to throw together a big enough mixture of musical styles that should be able to appeal to the masses. Even on the first listen, you'll be able to hear a whole bunch of the really obvious influences on the band - the lazy slacker beats on some tunes are so Beck-like that you'll be expecting to hear his nasal drawl and the guitar sound could have come from any Seattle rip-off, circa '95. At times they come across like a more punk version of Weezer (with slightly dirtier lyrics), because they have a real ear for pop tunes that will eat their way into your head. Plus, there's a remarkably faithful cover of Erasure's "A Little Respect" that demonstrates that Wheatus is just a pop band who know how to turn up their guitars. The lyrics are never funny enough to actually generate a real laugh, but they are well observed enough to elicit an occasional smile. Wheatus have the potential to be this year's quirky band who somehow cross over into the mainstream - their music is immediate and catchy, although long term there might not be enough to hold your attention. And we should at least be thankful that they have more talent than most of the bands who manage to achieve a similar fate. (Columbia)