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On the Chewing Gum Ground

Wallpaper

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Album Review

Wallpaper begin and end their debut album On the Chewing Gum Ground with songs that cite the sacred institution of rock & roll in their titles, and these guys are clearly musical purists in their own way — while the rhythms are just a bit fractured and the melodies often skeletal, they embrace the classic Power Trio format of guitar/bass/drums with the fervor of true believers, and Derek Kelley's lead vocals show a degree of swagger and snazz that would generally only appear on a K Records release in ironic form. But if Wallpaper are playing rock & roll that's been stripped to the frame and given a slightly uncertain pulse in spots, it's still rock & roll, and what's most winning about On the Chewing Gum Ground is that Wallpaper are clearly and unashamedly in love with the stuff. Derek Kelley, his brother Spencer Kelley and their pal Steven Potter trade off between instruments throughout the album while some friends add keyboard and percussion accents on a few tunes (most notably on the pseudo-glam number "Vertigo Jane"), and the performances are hooky, primal, and enthusiastic, with a surprisingly solid backbone on the best numbers and a real rock drive on all 14 cuts. This isn't punk in the traditional ranting and roaring sense, but Wallpaper do manage to sound like a trio of enlightened amateurs who are determined to save pop-centric rock & roll from the likes of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, and On the Chewing Gum Ground is a winning salvo from three guys clearly aligned with The Good Guys. Points added for some of the most imaginative lyric pages in recent memory (even if they're a little hard to read).

On the Chewing Gum Ground, Wallpaper
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