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The Christines - Living At the Bottom of the Sea (Lost Art Productions)

If this band were famous, they would be on the same par as the boring and overrated Ash, who are so insipid it hurts. But as the Christines' version of spangly indie pop is safely obscure, I won't mind saying that they are quite good. One-dimensional, but quite good. At least there is no half-hearted attempt to discover the trip-hop element to their music, to break into some spurious drum n' bass, or to tack on a few string samples to annoy the copyright lawyers. I like a band that knows its limitations.

The Christines make sparkly, pure, up-tempo guitar jangles that somehow refuse to be bogged down by indie-schmindieness. Songs like 'Passed Out in Showers' and 'Secretaries' feature crisp harmonies from all four members of the band, while 'Teenage Makeout Session' and 'In Your Space' cover slower, mellow ground. The lyrics are poignant, the lead vocals are whimsical, and the end result is haunting in a Teenage Fanclub/Mover kind of way. The album closes with the title track "Living At the Bottom Of the Sea", the Christines fading out with subtle synth noises and their dignity intact.

by Laura Slattery