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Pep Squad: 'Get Outrageous'

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Overdosed on retro-futurism? Pep Squad is not for you. But that’s what makes this debut so interesting. There’s no shortage of local dance rock groups (ugh) incorporating emotive synths and super syncopated rhythms, but no Saytown resident achieves the seamless pastiche Carlos Herrera does. Get Outrageous is radio-ready, yet maintains just enough self-awareness to lure in mainstream-panning snobs. Opener “F.U.L.A.” charts Herrera’s acute emotional ambivalence towards the state of pop. The coked-out chorus condemns Los Angeles’ culture of excess while an army of synths run a train on the breaks. Appropriately, Herrera later sneers, “I send you mixed signals because it gives me the giggles” on “What Are Friends For?” His commentary ends with those songs and it’s not clear whether it’s for better or worse. What’s crystal is Herrera’s ability to doppelgang. “Strung Out” could be an A-side on Twin Shadow’s recent masterwork Forget. On “Boom Boom Boom,” Herrera channels 3OH!3 sonically as much as James Murphy lyrically (“If you snort that Lindsey Lohan just to dance Diana Ross”). Ultimately, Get Outrageous is equally exciting for what it is (stellar party pop) and what it promises to incorporate (a conscience).

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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