January 11, 2007

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Pepper, No Shame
Atlantic Records, 2006

We continue playing ’06 Catch-Up with Pepper’s fourth surf-reggae album, a thickening of the beachside haze they’ve propagated for a decade now. Further Sublime sound-alikeness has been coaxed out of the trio by Paul Leary, most prominently on the Chili Peppers-like “No Control.” Polite for the most part, this is probably a superb choice for uncompetitive listeners who prefer keeping their beach-run tunes as far from the cerebral forefront as possible. There isn’t the bang-up catchiness of Elan anywhere near this dump; the songs sort of float along half-pretending to be interested in Maroon 5’s type of vibe but run like frightened deer when held up to any real writing standards, as though they were commissioned for Coppertone commercials. “Lost In America” is one of the more spectacular failures, starting off with a threatening rumble of riddim that slides into background music for volleyball at the verse and belly-flops into an un-pro hop-n-holla at what passes for the chorus. C+E.W.S.