May 03, 2004


Rosenbergs -- Department Store Girl cover.jpg

Tuneful matters of the heart rule the inventory

Consider the name of the second Rosenbergs album to be a dead giveaway as to what drives the band members: they chase after girls, and then they crank out perpetually hummable songs about these pursuits. Nearly every tune on Department Store Girl (Force MP Entertainment) revolves around an object of singer-guitarist-songwriter David Fagin's affection -- or at least his faraway gaze -- making him one of the most love-struck dudes around.

In "Nighttime Lover," no detail of his love interest goes unnoticed: "And you tell by the way that she's wandering/All the roots in her hair, take a moment and stare." The title track, which Fagin calls an ode to "the J.Lo of J.C. Penney," suggests not only that he has spent plenty of time checking out the ladies at the perfume counter, but that he has a keen eye for chronicling the everyday characters of humdrum suburbia, a la Fountains of Wayne. And in the spirit of such snarky power-pop brethren, for better or worse, The Rosenbergs have even built a song around a Miami Vice reference -- the cop fantasy trip "Crockett and Tubbs," which begins with a whizzing Moog sound straight out of The Cars' heyday.

To that end, the slick production of veteran knobsman Keith Cleversley (The Flaming Lips, The Posies) ensures the band's bright melodies have plenty of polish. Not that The Rosenbergs need much help in that department; the so-simple-it's-genius couplet "Beep beep beep/I need some sleep" in "Bulletproof Vest" (which describes a combustible love affair) and the prominent "doo-doo-doo-doo" harmony vocal in "Pushing Up Daisies" are among the record's many unshakeable hooks. However, such sweet pop sounds can't mask the occasional lyrical hiccup, such as the cliche-by-numbers refrain of "We go together/Just like jam and bread/Or maybe birds of a feather," which drags down the super-sappy "Birds of a Feather."

Try not to hold that against The Rosenbergs. The New York quartet wouldn't be the first band, or the first hopeless romantics, relying on charm or some less-than-original lines in order to get the girl. In this case, it should at least be enough to make fans of winsome guitar pop swoon.

-- By George Henn

Posted by medleyville at May 3, 2004 03:12 PM