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Album Review

Remember Let's Active? Shortly after Mitch Easter first gained buzz as the hot producer of the new jangle pop South courtesy of R.E.M.'s first three albums, the diminutive producer's own band, the resolutely adorable Let's Active, got its own I.R.S. Records contract, whereupon Easter released three albums and an EP featuring his peculiarly airy, winsome vocal style. Mitch Easter was, at the time, the only singer on the college rock scene who could make his old songwriting partner Chris Stamey sound gruff. And the little-known Florida-based singer/songwriter Kevin K is an absolute vocal dead ringer for him. Unlike Easter, however, Kevin K has little time for twee, jangly pop tunes: his backing band, a trio of French punques called the Real Kool Kats, favor ripping 1970s-style punk, like a rockabilly-fired Gallic Ramones. ("Hey Is Dee Dee Home?" makes the connection clear, as does the rather more on the nose "I Want Some Drugs.") As a result, there's an odd but appealing tension to Perfect Sin, between the sweetness and light of Kevin K's vocal style and the punky darkness of the tunes. It's a bracing combination overall, and any album that finishes with a cover of "Secret Agent Man" immediately has strong points in its favor.

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Perfect Sin, Kevin K and the Real Kool Kats
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