Howler + Frankie Teardrop

Critics' pick
Photograph: Cameron Wittig
Howler

After following the Strokes formula right down to signing to Rough Trade Records, Howler has shaken things up on its smart, fast and funny sophomore album, World of Joy, and gone '80s. But wait, nope, there's not a keyboard in site. The '80s were not just full of shimmering romantic synth-pop, y'know. The decade also gave us records by Thin Lizzy, the Cramps, Aztec Camera, the Descendents. You can hear bits of all of those bands here. The fantastic lead single, "Don't Wanna," blends the all the "I don't…" numbers of the Ramones with R.E.M.'s jangle. "You don't have to listen to the Smiths/Germs if you don't want to," Jordan Gatesmith sings. Of course, he's clearly been doing both. "In the Red" rips like the bratty Replacements (and the cover is a nod to the like-minded Hootenanny). But what self-respecting Minneapolis band wouldn't want to sound a little like the Mats?

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