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Album Review

From its moniker to the name of its Elektra debut, Los Angeles' AM Radio fairly screams "mainstream acceptance." This isn't necessarily bad. Many of Radioactive's unabashedly fizzy alternative pop concoctions are pretty damn irresistible the first few times you hear them, and isn't that the sign of a good singles band? Unfortunately, despite main brain Kevin Ridel's high-school friendship with Rivers Cuomo and his band's blatant similarity to Weezer (especially on the spacy "Media Life"), AM Radio doesn't have the consistent originality of its rock star tour mates, and this deficiency makes Radioactive fade like the sugar high it is. The problem is AM Radio's identity complex. Giddy, overdriven alternative rockers like "Taken for a Ride" and "Hush" are consistently rewarding, but don't jibe with the weird Brit-pop vibe of the WB hit "I Just Wanna Be Loved," "Neverwill," and "Cold Blue." Meanwhile, Ridel and his mates include a bunch of indie pop-styled numbers ("Take Time," "Stole the Show"), but the world already has Imperial Teen and Apples in Stereo, leaving little room for a Hollywood version of the two. Radioactive delivers with a few of its good, even great moments. But overall, it begins to feel like a big, flashy billboard on Hollywood Boulevard. The bright colors and sexy curves can't be ignored. But then it's whitewashed as quickly as it arrives, and turns out to be flat as a pancake. Ridel seems to have an idea that the countdown on his jig might soon reach zero. "Finish finish right now," he sings toward the end of Radioactive, "because tomorrow I'll be gone."

Radioactive, AM Radio
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