CD Review: American Hi-Fi pays homage to `70s rock on new CD

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Often criticized for their unashamedly pop-rock tendencies, American Hi-Fi is at it again with their latest release, Hearts on Parade.

The Boston-based quintet, led by frontman Stacy Jones—who is a former member of 1990s alt-rockers Veruca Salt and Letters to Cleo—has struggled to establish their own identity surrounded by their singer’s past and the flurry of punk/emo bands they are compared to. Best known for their 2001 radio hit “Flavor of the Weak,” Hi-Fi hooked up with producer and fellow rocker Butch Walker for this, their third release.

As expected, Hearts on Parade is a collection of 11 tracks, each filled to the brim with pop—rock, that is. But when listeners allow it to be separated from a backdrop of 1990s alt-rock and current pop-punk, it has no problem standing on its own.

Rather than a record influenced by the sounds of punk or grunge, Hearts on Parade quickly reveals itself as a homage to 1970s rock. Covering all points between Cheap Trick and the Clash, Hi-Fi’s latest effort is loaded with infectious hooks and lyrics so catchy, you’ll be singing along before you can finish the drive home from the record store.

Standout tracks include the first single, “The Geeks Get The Girls,” the bar scene-inspired anthem, “Hell, Yeah!,” and “Separation Anxiety,” easily the album’s most aggressive track.

Does American Hi-Fi deserve an award for originality? Probably not. But if you prefer memorable melodies and strong storytelling to anger and angst, Hearts on Parade is a nice alternative to Alternative.

From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue

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