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The Jessica Fletchers
Less Sophistication
Rainbow Quartz Records

The sound of The Jessica Fletchers is the transition between The Turtles and The Lovin' Spoonful - it's all go-go boots and mini-skirts shimmying to swirling organs and plucked guitars. It shakes, dips and spills drinks on your shag rug. A glance at the liner notes reveals the train-wreck of consonants which identifies the musicians as being Scandinavians - Norwegians, specifically.

This album is party-ready with a clean boomy bass anchoring happy-go-lucky melodies with abundant accents provided by flutes, theremins and violins. Two of the biggest highlights from the album, "Summer Holiday & Me" and "Less Sophistication" feature the effortlessly sexy voice of Theresa Lund, the voice you're always happy to have in your ears. She's a welcome departure from some of the falsetto background vocals sung by the rest of the band, especially on "Magic Bar", an otherwise terrific song that gets a bit too smurfy for it's own good during the choruses.

The only melancholy departure on the entire album is "You", a stark ballad featuring a far-away piano which elicits obvious comparisons to John Lennon, owing to a near-identical sound and structure. Regardless, it's a beautiful song in it's own right and there are twelve seconds between the last note gently played on the piano for the listener to contemplate, sigh, freshen up the cocktail and get back poolside with the next track - "I Need Love". Nothing about this track is terribly memorable, but it does a great job of shaking off the blues that "You" inspires. The song immediately following it, "Ready Ready", features the best break on the album. The harmony is tinged with expectancy - "She's so fine / She's so ready ready" and is matched by a skipping, tripping beat that leads the listener back into the song.

There's not really any new ground on this album - influences are everywhere and obvious but the band does an excellent job of distilling the best parts of them all into eleven solid tracks. Your party is incomplete without this album.

-Bill Donovan

Track listing:
1. It Happens Tonight
2. Magic Bar
3. Get Connected
4. Summer Holiday & Me
5. How Unlucky (Can You Possibly Get)?
6. You
7. I Need Love
8. Ready Ready
9. Less Sophistication
10. Driving Song
11. On Our Way

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