Music News

The Agency

"Polished" and "punk" are musical adjectives that don't always mix. Buff away the rough edges from good punk, and you can easily end up with soulless quasi-pop. It takes a lot of care to produce aesthetically pleasing punk without sacrificing its unkempt side, but the Agency pulls it off nicely on Pollination Strategies. In the end, the act's arty-yet-bristly groove is a vehicle for vocalist Rich Groskopf -- aka Idle Rich, the animated former Boss 302 frontman -- who channels Jello Biafra and Frank Sinatra in equal measure. "Liver Disease," a standout cut from Strategies, gives Groskopf the perfect outlet to croon such lines as "Liver disease blows softly, gently through the trees" over inventively structured indie-rock riffery. The melancholy bass line of "Last Song First Note," punctuated by buzz-saw guitar blasts, nods at new-wave balladry without resorting to synthesizers.