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Rodeo City

American Pop Project

Their press kit claims David Dewese and Jerry James, the duo who make up the Foxymorons, first met at Sunday school. After listening to their refreshingly unjaded take on American pop, which is so Raspberries-sweet it ought to come with a toothbrush, I believe it. The boys’ second full-length, Rodeo City, is all over the place, as if the Foxymorons can’t decide who they want to be when they grow up: power-poppers, alt-country rockers, or lo-fi slackers. The lazy hooks and listless vocals signal that the Foxymorons have spent their fair share of time gazing at the Pavement, but, unlike Malkmus & Co., these guys aren’t hiding behind a cryptic lyric sheet. The anthemic “Jakarta,” for example, is an earnest salute to the band’s favorite fantasy destination: “Far across the desert beyond my childish dreams/Lies an Indonesian treasure in a land beyond the sea/Oh Jakarta sounds good to me/And I really do believe that it’s where I want to be.” But what finally redeems this hodgepodge is the palpable sincerity and enthusiasm of its makers: When the Foxymorons let ‘er rip, as on “Left Sideways” or “When I Lie,” the result is a sound so joyful that it leaves no doubt about these guys’ dedication to love and guitars and rock ‘n’ roll. My inner cynic, who knows full well the band isn’t likely to alter the course of music history or change anybody’s life or even stop making the occasional wrong turn down the schmaltz highway (“Baby Blue,” “Summer Bummer”), rolls his eyes every time I put this on. But I just can’t write the Foxymorons off as derivative also-rans, because I like Rodeo City for the reason I like Mallo Cups: Each puts a sticky grin on my face. —Michael Little