"Hard Times Are in Fashion"

Doghouse America

"We called ourselves Canadian," announces Koufax on the tune that closes the quintet's third album, "Hard Times Are in Fashion." The song is about being embarrassed to be American while traveling overseas recently, but these Midwestern rockers don't have to sew maple-leaf insignia onto their jackets to obscure their national origin. They can just play their music, and most people will assume they're British.

Koufax's lineup includes siblings Robert and Ryan Pope, two former members of emo-punk stalwarts the Get Up Kids, but the band's sound is defined primarily by its songwriters: keyboardist Jared Rosenberg and singer, guitarist and lyricist Robert Suchan. While slide guitar gives such songs as "Isabelle" a stateside twang, Rosenberg's piano-playing recalls English music-hall rock. There are hints of specific post-punk bands in the stabbing guitar of "Colour Us Canadian" and the booming drums of "Why Bother at All," but the album's frisky piano and declamatory vocals embrace the whole universe of Kinks-inspired Britpop.

It's American culture and politics that Suchan condemns in such songs as "Back and Forth," yet Koufax's musical vernacular was not born in the U.S.A.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Thursday at the Black Cat with Kevin Devine.