From Bubblegum to Sky

Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen (Eenie Meenie)

Supposedly an homage to the music Bubblegum bandleader Mario Hernandez loved in the '80s, Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen covers a fair amount of territory in its 13 tracks. Pop fans hoping that Hernandez would tackle Men Without Hats or Dexy's Midnight Runners, though, are going to be disappointed. Hernandez's musical tastes at the time were both way behind and presciently ahead of the decade, and the new album travels from the 1970s (the T. Rex-ish "Vampire") to the 1990s (the tender house beats of "Sign the Air") with nary a dalliance in the Reagan era.

This isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, the best songs here ("The Gurls & Shoo Be Doo Wop," "Some Kind of Fantastic") are ones that sound a lot like 2000, the year From Bubblegum to Sky released its huggable indie-rock debut Me and Amy and the Two French Boys. As then, Hernandez still sings high and thin, his voice simultaneously grating and gratifying as he recounts the cheerful miseries of everyday living. On the new record, however, the songwriting has matured, the ubiquitous hooks and the handclappy, bah-bah-bah choruses feeling more like a substantial meal than the glucose-spiking snacks of Bubblegum's debut. It's a plateful of promise, a cool treat for the coming dog days of summer.

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