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Straight outta Auckland comes a group that delivers more of what we expect from New Zealand’s Flying Nun label: off-kilter but intelligent, irresistable guitar pop. Though they’re bounding through Pixies and Wedding Present territory, nothing’s really borrowed by the now London-based Garageland. They’re mining and refining Flying Nun’s rich pop heritage. But Jeremy Eade and Co. don’t want to appear to take things so seriously, at one point singing, “Pizzas, beer, and cigarettes that’s just all I need. Open my mouth and pour them in until my eyeballs bleed.” Elsewhere we find Eade searching unsuccessfully in the driving “I’m Looking for What I Can’t Get” and observing that in this life “we’re all Americans at heart.” Whether he’s “Tired and Bored,” blowing money on stereos, or drinking and drugging himself to sleep, he’s stylishly complaining, and that makes all the difference. Garageland aren’t primitive cavemen rock; they’re classicists in a way. If they have a kinship with old-school ’60s garage at all, it’s in Eade’s preoccupation with the universal male experience of being alone, drunk in a bar, alienated from the crowd, and missing someone with a sense humor about it all. Though disguised in a dull, circa-’90, neo-retro cover, Last Exit is a detour that’d be a damn shame to miss.

—John Dugan