This year's top entry in the category of power pop rock comes from Los Angeles newcomers Rooney.
Taking a blissful California harmony cue from Jellyfish, the wildly angular guitar and '80s keyboard tease of Weezer and the nouveau retro three-chord attitude of Chicago's own OK Go, Rooney lays down one crunchy pop-rock track after another on Rooney.
The disc opens with the sassy, handclappin' Beach Boys harmonies of "Blueside," and then hits a more laidback groove in the warning chimes of "Stay Away" ("stay away from my friends they're smooth operators/looking for a way in/stay away from me tonight/I've made other plans and you'll just be distracting me — in a good way.")
There's sing-song skinny tie pop with "If It Were Up to Me," and an OK Go-style tongue-on-guitar-strings rocker in "I'm a Terrible Person."
They strike an Oasis-like chord in the verses of the laidback-but-loud "Popstars," and pull off one of those head-nodding la-la-la choruses in "I'm Shakin'" (the chorus simply repeats, "Now I'm sho-sho-shakin', sho-sho-shakin' …")
The boys have a humor bone that tends to the dark side; in "Sorry Sorry," atop a loping bass and guitar, they proclaim "I'm sorry sorry for making your life a living hell/that wasn't me, that was alter ego."
And there's a nearly hidden element of psycho-narrator in "Daisy Duke," a deceptively hummable ditty about a guy with a younger girl whom he tells, "You don't know me too well" before asking for love and then apologizing for "cuffing you to my bathtub."
Over the course of nearly a dozen songs, Rooney keeps the volume loud and the hooks attractive.
This is fast-car summer pop-rock at its best.
(Rooney will play Chicago's Metro with Palo Alto on Sept. 13.)