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Hard Times Are in Fashion (Doghouse)

By titling its third album Hard Times Are in Fashion, Koufax inadvertently reminds listeners that being in fashion is harder than it seems. On the opener, "Why Bother at All," the group grinds out an anthem to disaffected youth that sounds about ten years too late; the tagline "this is the age of no feeling" is, like, so Gen X. To be fair, Koufax's sound has always had a healthy pinch of throwback in it -- the quintet makes no secret of its love for the piano-led rock of the '70s and '80s -- and, musically, the band excels at playing melodic, foot-stomping pop-rock. But singer Rob Suchan's lyrics can't always carry the weight. He tries to cram Spoon-fed odes ("Isabelle"), tough-guy bravado ("Stephen James") and tour-journal entries ("Colour Us Canadian") into a 45-minute album. Such scope is admirable, but Suchan's storytelling is too stiff and stilted to pull it off. Great bands can juggle a catchy hook, a hot tempo and a compelling lyric. Koufax can do all three -- but rarely at the same time.

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