Time Bomb Symphony

The problem with a lotta power pop (aside from its frequent lack of both power and pop) is the exaggerated sugariness of its words. The honeyed quality of the hooks and harmonies inspires too many of its practitioners to go lyrically gooey as well, resulting in a musical sameyness that tastes great in the beginning but is ultimately less filling. If only they'd remember that the finest stuff from the sub-genre often juxtaposes melodicism with edgy wit in a sweet-and-sour combination plate. A billion Chinese can't be wrong.

Former Denverite Darren Robbins, the one man behind the one-man band he calls Time Bomb Symphony, doesn't always strike this balance, but his batting average is improving. His latest disc (issued by Chequered Requerds, a Studio City, California, indie) starts predictably, with "Suspended in Time," "Oceans Apart" and "Falling From Space" touching upon age-old romantic pitfalls in wide-eyed fashion; only Robbins's reedy voice and some punchy guitars keep things moving. But things pick up at the CD's midpoint with the deliriously tuneful "Fuck Up (I'm a)," in which his gleeful declarations of guilt -- "I'm a fuck up!" he repeats -- prove that confession is good for the soul; "Can I Come Inside?" is an exuberant double entendre ("Can I come inside?/Your mouth is dying to say 'yes'") that marks the point at which Three's Company meets Sex in the City; and the title cut, an energetic ode to amorous persistence that turns on the couplet "If rules get broken tonight/Then there won't be so many rules to break next time." Chew that one over, math majors.

While these last three tunes are spinning, Rules Get Broken earns its power-pop moniker. May Robbins fail to conform even more frequently in the future.


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