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Magnapop

Priority

Of the plethora of woman-fronted bands filling the alternative airwaves in the wake of the Breeders et al., Magnapop has the most distinctive sound. In fact, thanks to producer Bob Mould, they have Sugar’s sound: On Hot Boxing, Mould gives Ruthie Morris’ rhythm guitar the same thick, chunky tone he used for his own on File Under: Easy Listening. Nonetheless, the band knows how to make engaging pop. On “Slowly, Slowly,” for instance, the tension builds during the verse as a rising, plucked string keeps time under Linda Hopper’s restrained, enunciated vocals, and is gratifyingly released in the chorus by Morris’ muscular power-chording. The disc consists of 14 to-the-point originals, and while none of them exhibit the self-indulgence that many bands lapse into when they don’t really have enough material to fill a 50-minute CD, neither do any of the tracks stray very far from the formula established at the outset. Ballads like “Texas” are not much slower or softer than the rockers.