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Generationals: Actor-Caster (Park The Van) 

The Generationals play throwback pop of the best kind—bouncy and playful, melding a variety of vintage sounds together.

The project of New Orleans songwriting duo Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner, who trade instruments and vocals throughout, the Generationals fit in with the quirky talents of current and former Park the Van label-mates like Dr. Dog, Tucson's Golden Boots and the Spinto Band.

The Generationals' follow-up to their 2009 debut, Con Law, takes bits from 1960s pop, garage rock, Motown and British invasion. Built around guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, the songs have just the right helping of handclaps and ooohs in the background vocals.

The songwriters deal with their lyrics differently than they do music: The songs are bright and uplifting in sound, but varying degrees darker in lyrical tone. "It won't get better 'til you leave me alone" is the main lyrical thrust of the sunny "Goose and Gander": "I know sometimes you gotta live in the dark / We can't stand each other but we can't be apart."

The band is strongest on songs like "Ten-Twenty-Ten," "I Promise," "You Say It Too" and "Greenleaf," which keep the catchiness at the forefront, with hooks alternately coming from vocals, guitar, bass and piano.

Actor-Caster is an album that is immediately endearing and also worth exploring deeper, when the album's real richness emerges from the contrasts between sugary music and the bleaker lyrics.

More by Eric Swedlund

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