The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

This second release (actually a re-release, now on Epic) from Kansas' Ultimate Fakebook can safely be described as punk-pop, though much of the material comes down more heavily on the "pop" end of the spectrum. Any one of these modern-day meditations on girls, relationships and keeping it real could easily be an "alternative" radio breakthrough.

There are obvious nods to Cheap Trick and the Replacements (two bands mentioned repeatedly in Fakebook's bio) here, but the more audible influences seem to be Third Eye Blind, Ben Folds Five and earlier, tunefully neurotic wordsmiths such as Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson.

The lyrics are winsome and clever, with harmonized choruses and some cute lines. "When she looks at me, her eyes are cold/ She thinks I'm acting five years old," laments singer/guitarist Bill McShane in the opener, "She Don't Even Know My Name" (RealAudio excerpt).

A jangly guitar sound is what baits the hooks, with McShane's vocals modulating up to a falsetto now and then. There are snappy drums by Eric Melin and strong bass by Nick Colby.

The band bemoans the state of popular music in "Real Drums" (RealAudio excerpt) and defend their own '70s-rock roots in "Brokyn Needle" (RealAudio excerpt) ("Basement majesties and desperate hearts/ Yeah, but it's okay jammin' after school/ Cuz I'm gonna be a star").

This Will Be Laughing Week is full of pleasant — if somewhat unoriginal — pop music just waiting to become popular. None of it will make you cry with its poignancy, but some of it might make you smile.