Nothing I can say is going to allay the suspicions that this squad of K Records naifs and their Nickelodeon-flavored moniker will inspire in the hearts of the twee-phobic, but I swear on a stack of Sassys that they avoid the pitfalls of their genre (and label) so nimbly that Jonathan Richman will want to scrawl them each a Crayola valentine. Amateurish but not inept, cute but not cutesy, they voice their cartoon pop tunes with a girlie innocence that's as feigned as their artless playing style--after all, there's nothing innocuous about the carnal threat of "Becky": "I wanna borrow your boyfriend / I wanna kiss him long and slow." On their new album, 2, the Portland quartet straighten the often folkish sway of their eponymous debut into a sugar rush you can call punky without snorting derisively afterward. The girls' current topics of interest include celebrity mash notes ("Jason Lee"), road trip itineraries ("Down South, 10 Hours, I-5"), and the frustrations of driving downtown to meet your baby ("Parallel Park"). For a change of pace there's the ambient swoon of "Daydreaming" and the synth-prickled tell-off "Video Game Heart." The cumulative sweetness yields a cuddly generosity bordering on the gross, like a boyfriend tonguing his bubble gum into your mouth. But if you've lost sight of the fact that dating is no weightier in bohemia than it was in junior high, the ease with which the All Girl Summer Fun Band breezes through serial crushes and temporary heartbreak can be a snappy corrective to the brooding of so many sad-sack indie boys. Monday, September 22, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton; 773-975-0505.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Lavine.