Bustello's Bustello | Record Review | Indy Week

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Bustello's Bustello

(self-released)

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Given the pedigree, it's hardly surprising that Bustello's eight-song debut EP is this catchy and sharply written. Frontman Ben Clarke led early-'90s outfit Metal Flake Mother, which released music on Mammoth Records. Bassist and producer John Plymale played with local icons Sex Police and The Pressure Boys before becoming a popular local studio man with Superchunk, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Tift Merritt.

Clarke's baritone croon lingers like smoke blown by the music's shimmy and sway here, echoing the shapely, summery warmth of Britpop acts like Blur and Pulp. The insistent mid-tempo hooks counterbalance any frothy undercurrent, with bursts of spiky guitar that recall the churn of Polvo. The resulting tension conceives a sound that's amenable but not necessarily easy—you can take it home, but you'd best not put Barry White on when you come through the door.

While the songs are relatively brief (half barely top 2:30, and nothing lasts longer than 3:30), Clarke still leads his six-string through an exciting variety of paces, eschewing the typical repeated riff gallop. It gives the songs more staying power, if perhaps making them less immediate. Thanks in large part to that guitar approach, each track establishes its own identity. The most personable include the terrific, rockabilly-inflected "Flavorful Love" and pulsing opener, "No Right of Mine," which may be the most irrepressibly catchy number here, thanks to a great choral melody. The album-closing ballad, "In the Void," sounds something like The Replacements trying their hand at Britpop, swollen, textured rock plated by a bit of country swagger.

Bustello often sounds familiar yet never entirely derivative, and they're infectious without pandering. This debut might not feature songs you immediately rewind, but like a bad cold, these tunes keep returning.

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