Sleeper Agent, Celabrasion

Christian Hoard

By Christian Hoard

on 09.06.11 in Reviews


Sleeper Agent

Sleeper Agent are six Kentucky kids whose debut album reverberates with garage-rock riffs, bubblegum cuteness, trad-punk propulsion and alt-rock sludge. Celabrasion may not have an original thought in its shaggy little head. And yet it sounds great — because Sleeper Agent combine those throwback elements in smart ways, and because there are enough lusty hooks here for two LPs. Fittingly enough for a group that embodies youthful abandon, Sleeper Agent have a barely legal frontwoman: Alex Kandel, an 18-year-old whose parents had to be talked into letting her tour when she first joined the band. On Celabrasion, she’s spunky but rarely bratty; usually she just sounds like she’s letting the hormones take over. Together with singer-guitarist Tony Smith, she keeps it mega-tuneful on songs that keep exploding: “Get it Daddy” rockets into an orgasmic chorus; “Force a Smile” surges forward until ending on a refrain of “all I wanna do, is play with you”; “Shuga Cane” sounds like Sonic Youth with a dose of, well, sugar. And that’s just the first three songs. Elsewhere Kandel and Smith trade verses on two strong ballads: “That’s My Baby” and “All Wave and No Goodbye,” which suggests Jack and Meg serenading each other over low-intensity electrofuzz. With most songs zipping by in under three minutes, Celebrasion is over too soon. But like teenage romance, it sure feels good while it lasts.