Bubblegum Graveyard may come as a slight surprise to fans of Apache Dropout’s fuzztastic, self-titled debut or its frenetic, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them live shows. This half-hour set of garage pop, the Indiana trio’s first for Chicago’s Trouble in Mind imprint, is practically polished by comparison. From the opening of the organ-dappled “Archie’s Army,” a song seemingly about zombie comic-strip characters (!), the production is slicker and the songwriting more approachable. Apache Dropout has located a pleasing middle ground between skuzzy and sensible, a nice safe place for melodies and marauders alike. The band takes listeners for a bluesy shuffle (“1-2-3 Red Light”), a mischievous, Black Lipsian rollick (“Robbin’ the Bank”), and a head-through-the-sunroof road trip (“I-80″). Where you might have once found a squalling blast feedback, the band often opts for a rib-sticking hook. Sometimes, like in the case of closer “Hey Valentine,” they even throw some psych-influenced acoustic strumming in to get the job done. They’re marrying pop to mayhem, melodies to chaos, and the whole enjoyable mess has come here to die. Bubblegum Graveyard, indeed.
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