Using the B-word when describing a new young band can be the kiss of death, but the sonic palette Happy Bullets use on The Vice and Virtue Ministry brings to mind a psychedelic-era Beatles album as produced by Ray Davies and recorded on an indie rock budget. Strong melodies, lush vocal harmonies, a sunny Britpop vibe, and plenty of hooks make for tracks that embed themselves in your mind after a single listen. The band's songwriters, Jason Roberts and Tim Ruble, have a disturbing sense of humor, and produce lyrics peppered with surrealistic images and lyrical absurdities. "Sex and Valium" is a moody dismemberment of a relationship that's been spinning its wheels for decades. "If You Were Mine" is a bouncy, over-the-top ode to true love and excess, while "Good Day" is obviously the disturbed child of "Good Day Sunshine." The Bullets' balance of the serious and whimsical mark them as the most dangerous of creatures: pop musicians with brains.
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