Several events have tried to amplify Boston's pop presence recently, including Boston Pop Underground and the International Pop Overthrow Festival. Mittens makes such initiatives appear wholly unnecessary. The band channels a late-1970s, early-'80s "My Sharona" vibe with sharp snare, double-tracked vocals, no solos, and stripped-down arrangements. This is the kind of band that can title a track "I'm Just Sayin' " and still seem smart. Few three-minute, two-verse songs can match the spot-on complexity of "Let's Make the Neighbors Want to Call," which starts by celebrating passion between ordinary people and swiftly devolves into admitting there's only one thing the lovers have left. Other songs express simpler emotions, such as "Belinda," co-singer Tom Novotny's plea to coax a girl out. Still, there's an ambiguous edge to these romantic numbers. "Whatcha Think About That" rings an uncomfortable emotion into a glorious pop chorus: "Kinda funny how we dance/How we don't never dance no more." As for the double frontmen, Andy Brooks contributes tight rhymes and off-kilter chords, Novotny an unusual voice -- the sousaphone of vocals. As charming and unassuming as its name, Mittens can't fail to please. Mittens performs a CD release show tonight at T.T. the Bear's.
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