AMERICAN PRINCES: Other People [Yep Roc]

The too-easy quip about Other People is that it sounds like, well, other people. But unless you’ve been watching MTV circa 1985 or hobnobbing with Oingo Boingo and Tears For Fears, said people aren’t exactly in your regular rotation or Rolodex. The strikingly retro elements on the fourth album by Little Rock, Ark.’s American Princes (notably, the icicle-pop guitar effects and singer/guitarist Collins Kilgore’s clipped vocal delivery) are difficult to ignore. But Other People isn’t a Big ‘80s theme park; it’s an inventive album that, despite the addition of a keyboardist to the band’s lineup, is essentially driven by the same walloping pop/punk guitar attack found on 2006’s superb Less And Less. The injection of effete mid-’80s radio pop works to perfection on “Real Love” (sung by co-frontman David Slade) and “Watch As They Go” (which matches Kilgore’s Devo-esque staccato vocals with a twitchy array of guitar lines). Hidden in tracks such as “Where I’m Calling From” and “Still Not Sick Of You” (whose massed-vocal chorus is the source of the Tears For Fears comparison) is Other People’s actual theme: loneliness and missed connections, with wartime imagery looming in the background. Any moderately talented band can go out and get Flock Of Seagulls haircuts and slap some synthesizer effects on its songs; American Princes have adeptly bent era-specific sounds to their considerable songwriting will. You know what they say: Wear the clothes. Don’t let the clothes wear you. []

—Matthew Fritch