Mates of State

Far and away one of the most overrated bands in recent memory, Mates of State returns with its third wince-worthy attempt at noisemaking. Like its predecessors, Team Boo mixes Tweety Bird keyboards, slap-happy rhythms and the shrillest singing this side of Yoko Ono. Even the album title is cutesy and annoying, but that's the least of the concerns here. The musical equivalent of the spastic Spartan cheerleader characters from Saturday Night Live, MOS consists of vocalist and keyboardist Kori Gardener and vocalist and drummer Jason Hammel. Yeah, they're married. So are a lot of people. Big deal.

Absurdly chipper ditties such as "Sound It Off" and "Whiner's Bio" aren't nearly as clever or funny as MOS seems to think they are, but they perfectly encapsulate the duo's irksome approach. Gardener's ice-skating-rink organ resembles a phone that's been left off the hook, and over-the-top skin pounder Hammel couldn't find a groove if he had a month and a metronome. When the couple tackles -- and I do mean tackles -- vocal duties, it's an all-out assault, as if the two weren't capable of singing at anything less than full throttle. Fans assert that these peculiarities make MOS sound different. Well, so does smacking an oil drum with a snow shovel, an aural experience preferable to anything on Boo.

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Geoff Harkness