The Big Pink: Future This (4AD)

It's the start of a new year—a time to give things second chances. I hated The Big Pink's debut, A Brief History of Love, which was mushy cock-schlock in a rind of new-wave-flavored dance. But Future This, the band's second record for 4AD (they still seem like a weird fit for the label), feels both hammier and more-committed—and commitment can go a long way.

The band's project of channeling Depeche Mode through Oasis still registers a big, "Why do that, of all things?" But I'll be damned if "Lose Your Mind" isn't a fun-as-hell riff on the melodrama of late-'80s dance music (which had been fully suffused with "gothic" pallor and self-seriousness). It's the kind of song that makes you want to cut holes in all your T-shirts and slather on black nail polish. "1313" splutters and yowls primally.

The R&B patina on "Give It Up," however, is both self-consciously trendy and a bit embarrassing. Music-video idea for the song: the band running around London with an iPhone snapping pictures of each other "planking." That would be about as six months ago as the song is.

But truthfully, this record targets the '80s-music lizard brain pretty well. A good example of this last year was Digitalism's I Love You, Dude, which was even more phenomenally fun, but less criminally embarrassing.

The moral of the story: Pop knows no rules, and cares not for the whims of critics. It just has to get into you.

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