Dallas band Lovie's indie debut Harshmellow doesn't evoke a girl-band aesthetic just because they are...um...girls; rather, it borrows heavily from the alternative pop that hit and flourished in the past 20 years from the (girl band) Go-Go's to (girly-lead-singer band) The Lemonheads to (boyish-girl-lead-singer band) The Cranberries. Lovie has developed a semi-nostalgic sound with just-right guitar riffs, simple keyboards and an astounding knack for fun, zippy backing vocals. That said, it's those same qualities that hold the album back. The disc as a whole never plays with challenging complexities: While their songs are chipper, they are also basic, such that they begin running together, and bam, you're back at the beginning before realizing it.

Harshmellow does work as a hint of a good band with the potential of being great. The first track, "Mindreader," begins with a whiplash-inducing guitar, then immediately pulls back upon the entrance of Rebecca Dixon's vocals. Once the beat and vocals hit the same stride, the song coalesces into a potential radio hit, or as their best bet for a live-set closer. Ballads such as "Release Me" and "Million Stars" just miss—they'd have made better rave-ups than the momentum-killers they are. Perhaps the best and, paradoxically, most original moment comes when the group covers "All the Pretty Girls" by legendary Houston band The Judy's.

Sadly, Lovie's seething, fun, live dynamic doesn't fully translate into the album. Harshmellow ends up being a nice listen that needs a bit more soul. But it has a lot of heart.



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