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Homespun: Bunnygrunt 

Matt Harnish & Other Delights
(Happy Happy Birthday to Me)

It's easy to forget that Bunnygrunt was once a sweet-cheeked trio considered part of über-cuddly twee-pop movement. The band's current incarnation relies more on speed, overdriven guitars and honest-to-God solos than charmingly off-the-cuff strums and near-miss harmonies of the band's '90s output. Principals Matt Harnish (guitar) and Karen Ried (bass) flesh out their sound with the help of Pubes/Sex Robots honcho Mario Viele and local scene vet Jason Hutto on guitars and Eric Von Damage on drums. Harnish gets the title role for this album (the band's first full-length since 2005's Karen Hater's Club), but he and Ried split the vocal duties evenly. (Caveat emptor: In the liner notes, Harnish also recreates the creamy pin-up shot from the disc's namesake, Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights.)

In addition to a little T&A, Delights shows off what Bunnygrunt does best: black humor (the horn-aided opener "665 and 1/2 Won't Do"), romantic frustrations ("You Get What You Get") and off-key, breathless vocals (all ten tracks). But the band has always taken the boy-meets-girl model of '60s pop and retrofitted it for a late night on South Grand, as demonstrated by a few of Delights' standouts. Ried's "Don't Turn Down the High" matches a Phil Spector drum beat with meandering guitar lines, while the next track, Harnish's "S. Kingshighway Bubblegum Factory," is as sticky and infectious as its name. Most of the songs capture the rushed, no-frills feel of the average Bunnygrunt show, but the final track, "Southtown Famous," takes advantage of the studio space with stacked vocals and a rat's nest of guitar lines. The lyrics consist of the mantra "We're gonna get drunk tonight," and at over four minutes, it may qualify as the band's most epic track to date. Of course, only Bunnygrunt could write an epic around one line about booze-lust.

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail for more information.

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