The members of Wolfie claim to have been listening heavily to Herman's Hermits since their first album, but the resulting "Where's Wolfie" doesn't really sound anything like the bouncy pop-rock of the British Invasion. Instead, this Illinois quartet recalls such groups as the Pooh Sticks and Guided by Voices, whose fragmentary pop-rock could never have existed before art-punk bands like Wire -- and who take the pop itself as a subject. "Where's Wolfie" includes breathless young-romance evocations like "You're Gonna Fall Back Into It, But I'll Always Love You," yet also record-collection surveys like "Steely Dan," which is so it's-uncool-it's-cool that it mentions Asia.
The band includes three singers, guitarist-songwriter Michael Downey, bassist-songwriter Joseph Ziemba and keyboardist Amanda Lyons. The latter two, who are romantically linked, trade vocals on such frisky Ziemba tunes as "It's Thursday, Not Sunday (Thank Goodness)," while such Downey songs as "Buying An Engine" are slightly odder and more synth-poppy. This split is actually the most '60s thing about Wolfie: The two songwriters provide salutary diversity to a sound that, with the band's '90s taste for two-minute songlets, might otherwise melt into a sugary blur.
Appearing Saturday at Galaxy Hut. To hear a free Sound Bite from Wolfie, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8111. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)