When The Machine came out in 2001, alternative rock was full of bands that had a Goo Goo Dolls/Foo Fighters type of outlook — in other words, alternative rock with power pop instincts. Some were respectable; others were mediocre, pedestrian clones of those influential bands. The Machine makes you want to root for Echo Park because it is among the more sincere and inspired examples of alternative power pop that came out in 2001. This CD isn't groundbreaking or innovative, but it's definitely solid. In power pop, hooks are everything — if your hooks aren't happening, you're sunk. And Echo Park proves that it has a way with a hook on melodic, catchy items like "Adrienne," "Colour Me," and "Unhappily Ever After." Echo Park isn't the type of alterna-rock outfit that likes to be angular and complicated; the Ohio residents thrive on directness and immediacy, and those things serve them well whether they're being influenced by rap ("Fly") or punk-pop ("The Drinking Song"). One of the CD's more irreverent tracks, "The Drinking Song" finds lead singer Bob Bowers discussing a drunken sexual encounter and telling the woman, "I never really loved you — I just drank too much." It isn't exactly the most polite tune in the world, but then, no one ever said that rock & roll was supposed to be polite 100 percent of the time. However, Echo Park isn't always that blunt, and while The Machine isn't emocore, it certainly has its share of sensitivity and vulnerability. Irreverent or sensitive, The Machine offers an appealing, infectious dose of alternative power pop.