Picks and Pans Review: Waiting for the Punchline

updated 01/23/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1995 01:00AM

Extreme

The Boston-based band's brand of hard pop—Beatles-esque melodies clinging tightly to head-banger guitar—hasn't exactly been flying out of music stores lately. So the group attempts to curry commercial favor on their fourth album by aping a more popular modality: Seattle grunge rock.

They carry off the imitation with an éclat any mockingbird would be proud of. All the elements are in place—the sludgy, lumbering bass lines, the Led Zep attack drumming, the excruciated singing and the squalling, high-tensile guitar riffs. The result is that songs like "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" and "Leave Me Alone" are virtual clones of the Pearl Jam style. All they lack is sincerity or originality.

One would assume that anything serving to emphasize Extreme's strong suit—the guitar playing of Nuno Bettencourt—would be an asset. Well, his licks here are as nimble and articulate as ever (listen, for instance, to the supple intro to "Naked"), but they are out of step with this album's borrowed bluster. (A & M)

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