Like Cheap Trick, the Blotto boys (Sergeant Blotto, Bowtie Blotto, Cheese Blotto, et al) know a good, pointless joke when they see one. They're a likable bunch, pundits masquerading as dimwits, a rock band with a '60s bent that knows its limitations and makes the most of them.

While Blotto's album "Combo Akimbo" has its ups and downs, the ups hold the edge, thanks to a few mildly malicious songs. "Metal Head," for example, examines incipient signs of heavy-metal mania. Sings Sergeant: "Suddenly there's an endless void where I used to keep my brain . . . I get up in the morning and want to shave my chest." "I Quit" is the kinetic equivalent of "Take This Job and Shove It," while "It's Not You (It's Your Family I Can't Stand)" speaks none too subtly for itself.

What's missing on this album are the hooks, the melodies to sustain the band's refreshing outlook. Without them, the best that Blotto can offer us is a brief but welcome respite from rock's more ponderous types. Maybe that's enough. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM BLOTTO, Combo Akimbo (Blotto Records BLP 004). THE SHOW BLOTTO, Wednesday at 9 at the Wax Museum.