Fuzzbubble had a brief 15 minutes of fame in 1998 as the first rock act signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment. The band played on his platinum rock remix of "It's All About the Benjamins," before being unceremoniously dropped from the label without releasing any music of its own. It is probably just as well, because on the evidence of Fuzzbubble's self-titled debut full-length, it must have been an extremely uneasy marriage (a fact confirmed by the hilarious hidden track, a remade Beat jazz parody of "Benjamins"). In fact, Fuzzbubble is almost shocking -- in the most delightful of ways -- to hear, particularly the first time you put it on, and about as far from East Coast hip-hop as music can get. It offers the band the opportunity to reclaim its true audience and identity, and shake the stigma that may have lingered from its short stint as a rap mogul experiment. The album is a full-on guitar pop assault that returns Fuzzbubble to its rightful place in the Los Angeles indie pop scene. The opening "Bliss" immediately sets forth the band's modus operandi. The song takes a slight alteration of the melody from "Back in the U.S.S.R." and juxtaposes it against a chorus borrowed straight from Nirvana's Nevermind. These are the two sonic hallmarks, alongside classic '70s power pop, that reappear over and over throughout the course of the album. The music is especially rooted in Beatlesque pop, taking as its template the most rocking songs off The Beatles [White Album], and doing so with generally excellent results. Jim Bacchi's songwriting is downright infectious even in the face of the grinding guitars, peppered with huge, bright melodies. And while his attempt at stretching a melody out to epic-length proportions on "Real World" ends up closer to Oasis' "All Around the World," even it is an interesting nod to "Hey Jude." But the band primarily excels at the more compact and strapping tunes, where its potency can be particularly effective. "Don't Let It Get You Down," "Zero Superstar," and "Big Time Nowhere" are all fabulous songs that could drill holes in your chest through sheer sonic force as easily as they etch their melodies into your memory. It is no wonder the producers of Godzilla enlisted "Out There" for the movie's soundtrack. The hooks are monsters -- simply enormous. Mike Clink (Guns N' Roses) polishes the music to an almost blinding sheen, which is the perfect approach given the high level of energy created by the quartet. It is the only way that power pop this heavy on the power half of the equation should sound. Susanna Hoffs lends backing vocals to "Ordinary" and the fine ballad "When It Stops Raining," the latter of which also includes keyboards by former Jellyfish member Roger Manning, and it gives another clue as to Fuzzbubble's heritage, but the album is really the quartet's show. There is little that sounds particularly visionary on Fuzzbubble, but that that is hardly a criticism. Any flaws are so minor that they are engulfed by the power of the music. -AMG
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