Picks and Pans Review: Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway

updated 05/02/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1988 01:00AM

The Woodentops

Razor-sharp guitar chords echo into silence, then keyboards launch into a manic, driving melody. With that beginning, Maybe It Won't Last, the first song on the new album by the Woodentops, sets an exciting tone for the band's best record. While their last release sounded awfully tame in comparison with the Woodentops' live shows, Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway finally gives lead singer Rolo McGinty a fitting framework for the pent-up wildness in his boyish voice. Producing what sounds like a highly energized folk music, the five band members maintain a rare balance. Each instrument's contribution is clearly defined. Keyboardist Anne Stephenson deserves extra credit for introducing unexpected bits of musical sparkle that finish off the songs the way that jewels adorn high fashion. Never very adept at lyrics, McGinty repeats the same phrases again and again in the songs he writes, and his voice lacks the range to maintain interest on its own over the whole album. But when his efforts combine with those of his band mates, the music often becomes emotionally soothing, as in Tuesday Wednesday. While McGinty soulfully whispers lyrics about a lost love, his voice intertwines with the sweet strains of a violin; an acoustic guitar strums softly and bongos add a gentle beat punctuated by what seems to be the amplified noise of a leaky faucet, dripping like tears. These folks obviously have heart, and a sense of whimsy too. (Columbia)

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