New Music Express | 1997

To the uninitiated, the name Papas Fritas might evoke exotic thoughts of tequila, cicadas and siestas. So it comes as something of a disappointment to find that it translates to something as workmanlike as your favourite salt'n'vinegar destination: chips. And, despite their Massachusetts origins, and the fact that this was mixed at home-of-legends Fort Apache, parts of their second album are as familiar as newspaper-wrapped potatoes. So there's enough jangling to suggest a Flatmates revival is imminent, while the tinny beats and petulant boy/girl shouting of 'Small Rooms' will cause a significant percentage of the population to spontaneously combust. Because it sounds like Bis, if only they were convinced they were at high, rather than primary, school.

Hardly great crimes, but Papas Fritas are capable of better things. Namely, crafting infectious three-minute songs, like the swooping harmonies and classic East Coast indie rocking of the sunbeam pop fluff 'Sing About Me'. Or, when drummer Shivika Asthana takes over the vocals from the splendidly-named Tony Goddess, sounding like Juliana Hatfield's funnier, cuter little sister. And, like Ben Folds Five, Papas Fritas write ridiculously catchy songs which include things - awful guitar squiggling, airbrushed AOR stylings - which normally would compel you to take your own life rather than admit to liking them, but here almost manage to rehabilitate the word 'groovy'.

So chips, yes, but crinkle-cut and smothered in sauce. 6/10

- Jim Alexander