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The Doxies

In Search Of . . . (Co-Opt Records)

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Hard to pin down stylistically, yet easily digested, the Doxies' fourth long-player brings emotionally compelling lyrics and fertile melodic hook lines to contagious tunes, throwing in a few choice rhythms for good measure. Formed in Columbia, Missouri, and expanded to a quintet with the arrival of lone female member Phylshawn Johnson (drums/vocals), these post-teen pop purveyors retain a certain innocence and naive ambition while narrowly avoiding twee sentimentality. The smashing lead track, "Goat," exudes exuberant power pop, as lucid guitar figures careen atop whirling keys and cheery crescendos. Though the remainder of the disc lacks that same verve, the tightly focused arrangements and surefire eclecticism bode well for the combo.

The shrewd "Touch and Go" relies on the main riff from Big Star's "In the Street" (popularized as the theme of That '70s Show) before settling into a streamlined southern-tinged honky-tonk respite. Cozier fare such as the melancholy "Every Once in a While" and the tumbling piano ballad "Damn Shame" (greatly helped by Johnson's wispy harmonies), recall '80s Hoboken pop charmers the Cucumbers or early '90s Dutch indie rocker Bettie Serveert. The album highlight is the closer, the delightful "All These Years," a determinedly bittersweet lullaby. Fresh-faced pop rarely sounds this convincing.

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