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modern skirts

The world needs more pop bands with senses of humor. This is the genius of Of Montreal-the songs are eminently hummable and catchy, but the words and melodies are snarky and humorous. But Kevin Barnes is just too weird-or too naked-for some people. Perhaps fellow Athens, Ga. cohort Modern Skirts are a better fit for those people.

The band's third release, All Of Us In Our Night, is a poppy confection, all lush backing vocals and swirling flangered keyboards. The producers the band chose to work on the disc hint at its sound and sensibility: Mike Mills of R.E.M. and David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven, who are perhaps the greatest of the catchy eccentric bands. The result sounds like Summerteeth-era Wilco, without the edge or depression.

"Soft Pedals," the disc's infective second track, exemplifies Modern Skirts' feel. Two singers trade lines, with the same motifs mutating slightly: "Soft pedals, we stay stoned/I been sleeping heavy since the beat done gone/Nightmares and marigolds/I been sleeping better since the beat done gone/I been drinking heavy since the beat done gone." Don't ask what it means; it sounds cool. All the while, the key signature is slipping and sliding who-knows-where (press material brags that it hits all 12 keys).

But this playfulness is also Modern Skirts' Achilles' heel. Individually, All Of Us' best songs are its most unusual, but in the context of a record, these risk blending into a quirky and pleasant but hardly memorable pastiche.

Modern Skirts play tonight at 9:30 at Local 506, 506 W. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. Tickets are $7.


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