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Peter Case has spent much of his 16-year solo career trying to shovel dirt on his glorious New Wave past. And who can blame him, when that past is memorialized in Valley Girl, the ’80s’ cutest piece of punxploitation? C’mon, you remember: Case and his fellow Plimsouls entertain a spike-haired Nicolas Cage and his dreamy girlfriend by belting out a skinny-tie classic called “A Million Miles Away.” Like Modern English, whose “I Melt With You” was also featured in the film, Case will never outrun his history—a fact that seems to have finally dawned on him. Admittedly, Beeline, Case’s ninth solo LP, includes plenty of the folky wheel-spinners that have become his post-‘Souls signature. But at least this time the man’s ace drummer, Sandy Chila, gets to goose otherwise bluesy bummers such as “Evening Raga,” “It’s Cold Inside,” and “Ain’t Leaving Your Love” in the direction of a catchy part or two. Occasionally, Case even uncorks a genuine pop-rocker worthy of his pedigree. The album, which is quaintly divided into “Side One” and “Side Two,” opens with “If You Got a Light to Shine,” which is easily Beeline’s best bet. A wry and bouncing look back at the “longest night I’ve ever seen,” it begins with Case asking “who kicked out the plug on the time machine” and comes complete with some great Beatlesesque backward-guitar riffing—just in case anyone’s missed the point. More heartening, though, is the hidden remix of “Something’s Coming,” on which Case’s son Joshua—with the able assistance of producer Rob Swift—actually manages to weave scratches and samples into Dad’s dusty chord changes without burying the old man’s sound. A nice feat, given Case’s own track record in that regard. Maybe he should consider raising the kid’s allowance. —Shannon Zimmerman