THE SAFES "Well, Well, Well"
WITH ITS BRAND of British pop-rock and sibling revelry, the Safes' "Well, Well, Well" unapologetically brings to mind the era of "yeah, yeah, yeah." It's where the Loop meets Liverpool.
There's nothing complicated about the way the brothers O'Malley evoke the '60s, and nothing particularly original, either. What the three O'Malleys chiefly have going for them, apart from a certain Hanson-esque affability, is an unwavering enthusiasm for yesterday's pop fashions. As a consequence, there isn't a track on "Well, Well, Well" that doesn't reverberate with familiar sounds, and though the echoes don't always derive from U.K. influences, no one will ever accuse the Safes of concealing their affection for the first wave of British pop invaders: the Beatles, the Kinks and their fellow travelers.
Emphasizing stiff-wrist beats, fuzzy guitars and boyish, buoyant harmonies, "Since Trust Went Bust," "Phone Book Full of Phonies" and "Fairy Tale Tomorrow" quickly establish the retro tone and thrust, and it isn't long before "Everybody in the World" and other tracks add Lennon-like tartness and woozy, psychedelic touches to the mix. All of this could easily come across as sounding far more calculated than charming if it weren't for one thing that's hard to ignore: When swept up by their pop-rock passions, the Safes are capable of making the past seem like an innocent blast.
-- Mike Joyce