Choo Choo La Rouge have an affiliation with Boston, but their plaid-shirt-and-jeans rock reaches across the map to warmer climes, maybe to laid-back spots like Athens or Austin. The band's second full-length is a tight collection of smart, unfussy, catchy songs that hark back to those pragmatic ideals of underrated '80s indie pop (think the Reivers, or the DB's), songs about trust funds, mannequins, architecture, stories that are as big as "Elvis . . . or Texas," and, inevitably, the impermanence of it all.
Singer/lyricist Vincent Scorziello's speak-sing voice keeps things casual, skewing the Velvets-meet-Yo-La-Tengo rave-up "The Relentless Money Love Blues" and the hip-twisting "Here Come the Guns" toward the ironic. Even more unassuming is Choo Choo's rhythm section: bassist Chris Lynch and drummer Jon Langmead helm the year's best stunted-gallop groove on album highlight "Mostly Air."
Here the band leap and bound against the wind, tiny gears grinding in place. "I really wanted to believe in your shaky masterpiece/But I exhaled and it collapsed into the truth," Scorziello sings, while a guitar chord hangs unresolved in the space between.