The King of France

The genre above says “pop,” but you might as well call The King of France “smarty-pants rock,” that vaunted category whose forebears include the Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants, and Jonathan Richman. Singer/guitarist Steve Salad played around Minneapolis with Deformo and the Kelley Deal 6000 before moving to New York City. Michael Azerrad has written acclaimed books about Nirvana and the ’80s indie DIY movement, and he lays an awfully good backbeat. You may think that it’s no big deal to make something that’s both smart and entertaining, but I’m sure Azerrad the historian can list a multitude of bands who didn’t get the subtle differences between smarty-pants rock and I’m-gonna-kick-your-ass-you-freakin’-nerd rock. “Mexico” proves The King of France get it, with its rollicking piano, generously subtle rhythm and Salad’s quirky rhymes about life’s missteps played out as if they were a road trip of shame. It’s “Highway 61 Revisited” for the grad-school set. Hey, even they need to rock sometimes.

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