Album Review

A fun ride on a loopy carousel

August 3, 2009

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Drug Rug The Fence Invisible
Black and Greene
ESSENTIAL “Never Tell’’

On the sophomore follow-up to its self-titled 2007 debut, the band with the name designed to make you either grin or cringe leaves little ambiguity about its mission: making music at once delightful and daring, canny and ebullient, and always brimming with the buzz of life.

Led by the adorable riff-trading couple turned indie-rock revelers Tommy Allen and Sarah Cronin (both above), the Cambridge collective employs its considerable - and considerably appealing - strengths with gleeful assurance. Euphoric cross-hatched harmonies; gobs of fuzzy, low-end guitars; and various embellishments (mellotron, organ, Casio synth guitar, etc.) make the whole shebang sound like one big, loopy carousel ride at a cracked carnival.

There’s the primal psychedelia of “Don’t Be Frightened by the Devil’’ and “Noah Rules,’’ which manages, somehow, to channel everybody from the Electric Prunes to Of Montreal. And with its chugging rhythm, choir of “ba-da-da’’ background vocals, and Cronin’s elfin voice fronting the band’s charmingly grainy lo-fi aesthetic, “Hannah, Please’’ comes across like Le Tigre covering the Beach Boys.

There are flashes of California dreaming elsewhere, too, on the Mamas and the Papas-esque “Coffee in the Morning,’’ although the West Coast reference point takes a more ominous turn on “Never Tell,’’ with talk of “California wildfires making it so hard to breathe.’’ Just when you’re jumping for joy, leave it to Drug Rug to pull the trampoline out from under you for sheer kicks. (Out now) -- JONATHAN PERRY

Drug Rug headlines a co-CD release party with Mean Creek at the Middle East Downstairs ( on Saturday. Tickets are $12.