A key line on Ultimate Fakebook's major-label debut, This Will Be Laughing Week, goes like this: "I remember when the backbeat wasn't programmed in and heroes were still human." Sure, it's an obvious swipe at whatever mainstream music you despise the most, but in the case of Ultimate Fakebook, a trio from Kansas, its members do remember a time when rock 'n' roll was played by flesh-and-blood people, and they recall it fondly throughout this rising blast of power poptopia.
At its most precious and cutesy, Ultimate Fakebook recalls Weezer. When it just plugs in and rocks, the band takes its crunchy guitars and tales of misspent youth to a much better place. The 14 songs on This Will Be Laughing Week use the time-tested three-minute pop theorem, which maintains, "If you can't say what you need to say in less than three and a half minutes, you have nothing to say." And while Ultimate Fakebook really doesn't say much in the end, the adherence to the time limitation gets the tunes in and out of there before they have an opportunity to sag. There's also a passion running through these grooves that speaks to these guys' love of rock 'n' roll, even if it seems as if quite a big chunk of it was learned in the '90s alt-rock battleground.
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This Will Be Laughing Week doesn't offer anything new, and its best song -- the ultra-hooky "Tell Me What You Want" -- grabs its working pieces from every power pop/punk act from Cheap Trick to the Replacements. Still, you gotta dig the gusto.