CD Review: VHS or Beta

Bring On the Comets Astralwerks
Music ••• Sound ••½

While a more au courant name for the band would be HD DVD or Blu-ray, it's appropriate that this trio references formats whose heyday was in the early 1980s. That's because it sounds like a band from MTV's love affair with British New Wave. Imagine a mashup of the psychedelic pop from the Icicle Works and Ultra Vivid Scene streaked with some mediocre patches that recall the more robotic strains of Wang Chung. Which is to say, VHS or Beta hasn't mastered the art of pop songwriting on its second full-lengther. Still, the first half offers a sugary rush, especially the chiming, hook-laden "Love in My Pocket" and "Can't Believe a Single Word." But the drums sound programmed (even though they're claimed largely not to be), and the percussive patterns are redundant over the long haul, especially when the songwriting weakens.

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