IS THAT THE voice of Andrea Lewis fluttering breathily, disco-diva style, at the opening of "It Makes No Difference," the first song on the Darling Buds' "Crawdaddy"?
Yup, this young Welsh quartet has followed up the melodic but pointed "Pop Said . . . ," one of the most satisfying semi-sweet pop-punk albums of the '80s, with the dance-rock stratagems virtually required by Britain's current "acid house" fervor.
It's not so bad. Many of Lewis and guitarist Harley Farr's songs -- notably "Crystal Clear" -- penetrate the fashionable neo-psychedelic mist provided by producer Stephen Street, and the album is certainly listenable enough. Pound for pound, though, "Pop Said . . . " is much more likely to precipitate dance fever. Of course, it would be the pogo, not the electric slide.
The quintet 9 Ways to Sunday recorded its album in Pennsylvania, but the band's members also seem to pay close attention to British pop trends. Lead singer William Robertson has Ian McCulloch's voice down almost cold, and the band's semi-acoustic, slightly funky sound could be, say, the Railway Children or another 20 or so second-tier British pop bands. Too bad (for them) that the perfectly pleasant and perfectly unessential "9 Ways to Sunday" isn't the product of Brits, though. It would probably sell better.
THE DARLING BUDS -- "Crawdaddy" (Columbia).
9 WAYS TO SUNDAY -- "9 Ways to Sunday" (Giant/Reprise). Appearing together Friday at the 9:30 club.