Over and over again, hundreds of hungry musicians spend the better part of their existence toiling to find the perfect pop equation. For better or worse, it happens time and time again even though only a handful of lucky designers will find their key to perfection. It’s a long hard road, but it’s this endeavor that keeps the world of pop music going ’round. However, what makes this so hard to swallow is how clichéd it all sounds.
On their sophomore release, Over and Over, the members of Los Angeles’s the 88 are back in the saddle perfecting their blend of retro pop. But the album pulls more from current retro-revival acts than the founding fathers of British Invasion that seem to be the inspiration. On opener “Hide Another Mistake,” every element of the band’s pop definition can be found: light, building guitar chords accented with the occasional keyboard lick and polished off with a noninvasive vocal singing about sunshine. It’s followed by eleven more songs that seem to have been perfectly polished with the pop-music buffer. The production is uber clean, the vocals are a simple blend of Dandy Warhols and the Thrills, and the guitar work is just enough to keep the rhythm moving.
Everything on Over and Over seems to have been overly thought out to fit cleanly with the style the 88 is emulating, down to the album cover that features the ’60s mod debutant with big headphones and glasses. Over and Over features some catchy pop songs and flaunts a group of musicians who clearly know what they’re doing, but it offers nothing new. Making an album that so closely follows the rules of pop music is like shooting fish in a barrel.
“Hide Another Mistake” video