No one is more aware of a trend's limited shelf life than a record company executive. Lucky Boys Confusion learned this fact when its blend of ska, punk, rap, and reggae attracted the attention of Elektra. Since ska hybrid bands are so 1996, the label goaded LBC to elevate its pop/punk side and stash the horns. In session it appeared that LBC was destined to be a blink-182 knock-off, but at the 11th hour the band stood up to Elektra brass and stuck to its original sound. The label eventually decided to dance with them that brung 'em and Throwing the Game was born.

While swaying a group of 20-year-olds to adopt a more lucrative sound surely seemed an easy task, Lucky Boys Confusion proved to be far shrewder than their collective ages might suggest. Many young bands would have compromised their ideals for a sack of cash and 15 minutes of fame on Elektra's dime. What separates LBC from other bands is a confidence developed from surviving a Somme or two in the music trenches. The band (singer Kaustubh "Stubhy" Pandav, guitarists Adam Krier and Joe Sell, bassist Jason Schultejann and drummer Ryan Fergus) toiled for years in Chicago, independently releasing their own albums and building a huge local fan base with their energetic live performances.

Throughout Throwing the Game, LBC balances clever, fun-filled lyrics with serious themes. The songs are full of humorous, self-effacing references about the fleeting nature of pop stardom. The album features titles like the persnickety "Dumb Pop Song," which comments on the state of American radio, while lyrics like "Oooh, mama, did you hear? / They want to make me a star" skewer record company politics. Throughout the album, the band mixes in audio recordings of conversations they've had with strangers while on the road. In one clip, a woman they met at a truck stop says earnestly of the band: "I got a feeling y'all gonna blow up bigger than 'N Sync." Many bands might believe her, but LBC see it for the joke it is.

Behind the yucks there lurk subtle tones of frustration and anger. On "Fred Astaire," LBC chastises parents who push their kids too hard to overachieve, while "40/80" describes an incident of police harassment. True, the band's agenda represents the limited worldview of suburban teenagers, and it's unlikely that LBC will foment a revolution. Nevertheless, Lucky Boys Confusion is sure to convert plenty of Houstonians when the guys bring their live show to town.

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Sean McLain