Playbill

Has power pop run its course? Considering the number of bands specializing in catchy, guitar-driven ditties, the answer very well may be yes.

Sure, most of these acts are fun as hell, but can anyone really tell them apart? With independent labels emerging like tampered ballots in Florida, the alt world is progressively collecting more and more potential Green Days. But for every army of sound-alikes, there are several soldiers who refuse to toe the line. Among them are Berkeley, California's Groove Goolies, Albuquerque, New Mexico's Eyeliners and, at times, the Selby Tigers. Straight out of St. Paul, Minnesota, the Tigers are another band that can stand apart from the pack -- if only for moments at a time.

Unfortunately some of its members subscribe to the tired practice of assuming kitschy aliases, and regrettably the guiltiest party is the band's most defining element; guitarist and vocalist Arzu-D2 (real name: Arzu Gokcen) manages to enliven the group's material on the recent Charm City (Hopeless). Her sardonic delivery is used to good effect on the album's second track, "Droid," a pulsating tune that offers D2's declaration of independence: "Don't you know? Didn't they tell you? I'm not the droid you're looking for!" The tune is easily the best on the record as well as the most pop-influenced. Other tunes point out the band's similarities to fellow Minnesotans Hüsker Dü, as well as its unabashed tendency to borrow riffs (i.e., a blatant rip-off of the Ramones' "Teenage Lobotomy" on the cut "In Bed").

Sharing guitar and vocal duties with Arzu-D2 is husband Nathan Grumdahl. While they seem to have their rock chops, Grumdahl weighs down the whole package when he steps up to the mike. With a soulless monotone style, his voice strips nearly every tune of its charisma.

Vocals aside, the quartet's arrangements are intermittently fresh, with fuzzy power chords held in check by punchy rhythms. Lyrically, much of the Tigers' repertory is abstract and somewhat reactionary. While "Droid" reflects a distaste for America's bourgeoisie, other tracks like "Robot's Perspective" shed an equally negative light on the corporate world. Antiestablishment diatribes have always had a place in rock, but as time has proved again and again, such statements have little impact.

Despite certain shortcomings, the Selby Tigers clearly have the potential to rock with fierce abandon in a live setting. But until the Tigers can put it all together, the outfit may be doomed to being entertaining one moment and forgettable the next.

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Mike Emery