PLUTO- Shake Hands With the Future

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After jumping to Virgin for a self-titled 1996 LP, and reissuing their Mint debut from a year before, Plutois back with the eagerly-titled Shake Hands With the Future. The real message here? Thank god for crankiness. Shake Hands is a fizzy, head-nodding effort, and hooky to a fault. However, it's drenched in a brash, whatever-dude aesthetic that actually makes it quite charming (in a niche market/goth-girl's-runny-mascara sort of way). If the cynicism driving Ian Jones' vocals on "The Balls" (yep, those balls), "Zig Zaggin," and especially "Out of My System" wasn't there, the songs' weirdly blatant references to Weezer and Foo Fighters would threaten to ensnare Pluto in a tractor beam of modern rock boredom. When Jones sneers "Better get the anesthetic/All your words sound like plastic..." in the crunchy "Plastic Surgery," he slathers the too-cute vintage organ with smarm, forbidding it from steering the song toward radio single land. Of course, it's this same car clash of I-could-care-less and major label flash that might put Pluto right back on the road to indie land. The album might be too hip for its own good, like the Dandy Warhols trying to cover Rentals' songs. But that's a non-issue for fans of these bands, who are usually happier if their music isn't on the radio, anyway. Standouts on Shake Hands With the Future include the slight new wave crackle of "Still in School," and the sweet pop of "Goodbye Girl," sung by bassist John Ounpuu.