HOBOKEN, New Jersey, may not be the new Liverpool, or even the new Athens, Georgia, but in the last five years it has produced a remarkable number of garage pop bands. The latest is the Cucumbers, whose bright pop-rock sound is built around Deena Shoshkes' ingratiating little-girl vocals.
There's nothing little-girlish about the band's first full-length album, "Who Betrays Me . . . and Other Happier Songs," a dozen catchy songs about the vagaries of love and friendship couched in a knowing innocence.
Among the best are "Everything Goes" and "Want to Talk," with guitarist/harmonist Jon Fried handling the lead vocals on "You're Still in My Arms." Shoshkes overcomes the slightness of her voice through serious emotional investment that renders the lyrics as confessions, rather than mere statements. And one hears in that sureness the beginnings of a distinctive style.
The band's major drawback is a tendency to rely on quirky, angular rhythms that start getting monotonous after half a side. And a song like "Don't Watch TV" seems overly calculated in a B-52ish manner, the last kind of retrograde influence this band needs. Still, the pure pop instincts that dominate the rest of the album augur well for the group.
THE CUCUMBERS -- "Who Betrays Me . . . and Other Happier Songs" (Fake Doom 006); appearing Friday at the 9:30 Club.