The Hang Ups have made a string of overlooked albums that carry on the baroque neurotica of the dB's, and, like the best modern pop, the Hang Ups' music finds its own voice within a choir of influences. They've survived grunge (as opposed to outgrowing it) and long outlived their famous Minneapolis brethren -- alt-founders like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum. They haven't even re-recorded their vast catalog with an acrimonious vengeance, à la
that other Twin Cities legend, the ego formerly known as Prince. True, there's nothing blatantly angry or innovative about the Hang Ups, whose name cleverly synthesizes rejection and agitation. Instead of howling in pain, screaming over a gaping lack of proficiency, they use harmonies -- spelled out with cake-decorating exactness -- to add layers to what might otherwise be a predictable treat. If grunge is a stick of emotional dynamite, and lounge a cigar in the mouth of a precedent, the Hang Ups' pop is a burning candle -- romantic, bright and slow-going. With most new bands espousing an alt-for-alt's-sake laziness (or cynicism), the Hang Ups are a flicker of hope in the industrial darkness. They may never hit it big, but because it's unlikely that that's their stated objective anyway, they'll succeed by pleasing you with tunes that simply ring off the hook.