The Dead 60s

The 1960s might be dead in this Liverpool quartet's world, but the late '70s and early '80s are alive and kicking on its self-titled debut, which evokes the sound of the Clash driving its train in vain into the Specials' ghost town. The Dead 60s are yet another stylish post-post-punk band, but there's a slight spin of newness: The tension of their music comes from pitting the rigid tick-tock of Gang of Four against ska's behind-the-beat groove, and they've mastered the neat trick of sounding like they're in a big hurry to get nowhere in particular. Opener "Riot Radio" is built atop a trebly, itchy-scratchy riff that won't stop recharging itself, while "A Different Age" has a high-tremolo lead line that sounds like it can't regain its balance. Singer Matt McManamon sneers with panache, too--in "Nowhere," he uncovers the quiet melancholy that lurks inside your average street punk. Yet there's something almost too right about the Dead 60s' debut. Listen closely to their perfectly assembled tunes and they evaporate like fog, leaving only the mist of good influences behind. It's another neat trick, but a frustrating one.