Could it be that the press kit has it right? That the Moffatts' boyish and buoyant refrain "Never knew what love was/ until you loved me" might turn out to be "the new millennium's `I wanna hold your hand.' " Hmmm. Or more precisely, mmmbop. After all, if the music created by these four lads from Canada begs comparisons, the obvious reference point would be Hanson, another group of pop-smart siblings who draw from '60s rock and soul without making any claims of originality.
While a neo-psychedelic swirl of guitars, sitar and harmonies on "Until You Loved Me" does evoke the Beatles heyday, more often the Moffatts sound like they've been listening to the Hansons -- and sometimes listening a tad too closely. For proof, check out the mmmboppish "I'll Be There for You." Other songs, which place the emphasis on keyboards and guitars, also recall the Hansons and occasionally suffer from undernourished soul vocals. Since the Moffatts first made a name for themselves as a country act, it's not surprising that they sound a lot more comfortable singing bittersweet vocals and harmonies on "Miss You Like Crazy" and "Written All Over My Heart."
Produced by Glen Ballard (best known for his work with Alanis Morissette), the album has a bright sonic edge that complements its abundance of catchy choruses and tuneful melodies. So despite its flaws, "Chapter 1" suggests that the Moffatts' story may well unfold in interesting ways.
Appearing Tuesday at the 9:30 club.
To hear a free Sound Bite from the Moffatts, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8129. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)
CAPTION: Faux Hanson? Actually, the Moffatts go their own (albeit similar) way.