The biggest debates in rock music are about the great mimics. The Strokes outlasted comparisons to the Velvets, Coldplay somehow became bigger than Radiohead, and you can't even speak the word Nirvana without thinking of the Pixies. So it's understandable that one of the most refreshing groups to surface in the past year, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, isn't exactly "refreshing."
A review of the band's first full-length, #3, might only require five words -- "Swedish version of Magnetic Fields" -- as singer Johan Hedberg is a near clone of MF's Stephin Merritt. But in great mimic fashion, the charming half-acoustic, half-electronic, all-happy folk of 3 trumps its American version. "Noodles" is demonstrative bedroom pop -- banjos jangle against corrosive flute lines, hyper howl samples, lo-fi tom bangs, and a surreal yet singable chorus: "Noodles are the smell of denial, you will never grow old." Most of the lyrics are just as silly -- particularly in "Loop Duplicate My Heart," a whirling, synthy ode to four-track recording -- but for the most part, this Swedish duo gets the right balance between goofiness and wit. Take "Parakit," where Hedberg sings about indie-loving graffiti in his hometown: "The tags are still there, 'Meat Is Murder' and 'Pavement'/I used to wonder when I went for a walk, if they meant Pavement the band, or if it was just coincidence." Right after those lyrics, a lush '70s-style shakedown with harmonious cries, chimes, and horns seems to answer his question.