THE ALTERNATE ROUTES
"Good and Reckless and True"
The Alternate Routes revive the new wave sound of the early '80s, filling their debut album, "Good and Reckless and True," with the anthemic melodies, grand-gesture guitars and earnest pronouncements of U2, the Police and INXS. The Connecticut rock trio is hampered by lyrics (penned by lead singer Tim Warren) whose earnestness lapses into vagueness and cliches. But the album's music (composed by Warren with guitarist Eric Donnelly and bassist Chip Johnson) boasts the kind of ear-grabbing melodies, galloping rhythms and expansive harmonies that remind one how much the new wave owed to the Beatles. There's nothing alternative or innovative about the Alternate Routes, but their retro-rock sound is not without its rewards.
The song "California," for example, begins with some Beatlesque reverse-tape guitar and blossoms into a ballad melody that recalls Paul McCartney's imitations of Brian Wilson. The bland lyrics offer every stock phrase about the Golden State you've ever heard, but that hardly matters when the voices and guitars pile up to create harmonies full of heartfelt longing. The Alternate Routes maintain that seductive musicality even at the hard-rocking tempos of "Going Home With You" and "Are You Lonely?" On "Ordinary" and "Endless Conversation," the lyrics are too faithful to the titles, but these mid-tempo rockers are bursting with melodic pleasure.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Wednesdays through Aug. 10 at Jammin' Java.