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Born in the small town of Kirkland Lake, south of Toronto, singer/guitarist Dany Laj writes the kind of tunes full of yearning: for love, for commitment, for purpose, for getting the hell out of town. Fortunately he wraps this angst in the kind of tuneful confections that make fast friends on one spin. Pop melody meets garage rock on “You and Me,” “Smoke in the Sun” and “Till Jockey’s Lament,” signaling as much devotion to an aesthetic as to a low budget. Laj and his backing duo inject some folk rock seasoning to “Don’t Keep Me Guessin’,” as well as some well-concealed but undeniable country flavoring to “One More Hole,” in order to add variety without derailing the mission. But the Looks’ main raison d’être is straight up power pop like “Painting My Face,” “Wanted to Be Loved” and “Pick It Up,” which nods to everyone from Nick Lowe to the Nerves to the Michael Stanley Band without playing copycat. The record’s apex is the nervous, catchy, hilarious “I Play Guitar,” which lets bassist Jeanette Dowling join Laj in a conversational exploration of the joys and ass-pains of being in a rock & roll band. “Hey, where’s that patch chord?” Laj asks of his bandmates, even though it’s right there, rocking beautifully behind him.
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