An album of boy-girl coos and combustible pop produced by Steve Albini? Is it the Pixies? Well, on "Meat is Murder Mobile" it could be. But even though Royal Oak's New Grenada has that anxious thing down pat on Modern Problems, and recorded the album with the famously cantankerous Albini, they seem to want more than mere posturing to the past. Of course, that's both a good and bad thing. Problems opens with the keyboard-driven catchiness of "Emergency Brigade" and carries that through on "Chumps," a freak-out of electronics and punk leanings propelled by pounding drums and wild screaming. But New Grenada loses its way on "El Paso" and "Infections," settling in a middle ground of pop-punk and posturing to bland MTV accessibility, and lyrics like bassist-vocalist Nicole Allie's "You lie and you steal and you cheat/trample people under your feet/You better treat me right" sound trite despite her growling Le Tigre delivery. New Grenada really nails it when focusing on what it does best gristly tributes to vintage indie rock spread across sugary hooks. But Modern Problems ends up being only decent, since the band gets hung up on replication instead of following their own vision.
Luke Hackney writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].