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Album Review

The bouncy, college rock jangle that Letters to Cleo serves up on their final recording, Sister, won't surprise many listeners familiar with the band. By 1998 the cutesy warble of alterna-girl rockers had just about gone completely out of fashion and this group might have been feeling a bit of a backlash because of it. They had lost their major-label deal after two Giant/Revolution releases went almost entirely unnoticed, and the promising days of Aurora Gory Alice must have seemed like ancient history. None of this affected Letters to Cleo's sound and songwriting approach. Sister is straight pop/rock from the first measure of "I See" to the last beat of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" — a last-chance note of recognition, perhaps, to the brand of '70s FM rock that first influenced so many gen-x musicians. Letters to Cleo had run their musical course for sure, and Sister is a fitting finale to the Boston alt-rock outfit's sturdy, but unremarkable career.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Boston, MA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Melding hooky pop songs with the muscled approach of a rock band, Letters to Cleo formed in Boston in 1990. Guitarist Greg McKenna actually started Letters to Cleo as another group; when he began searching for a background singer to complete his lineup, he found Kay Hanley. A powerhouse vocalist who had previously performed in a local new wave group, Hanley remained with McKenna after the original band fell apart several months later. The band adopted a peppy power pop sound as well as a new name,...
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Sister, Letters to Cleo
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