"Seems like we're trying to relive the past," offers Greensboro's (soon to be Carrboro's) Adam Thorn about halfway through his debut, Where's the Freedom? Is that a mission statement or a throwaway line? After all, when you title a song "The Kids Are All Wrong" and employ guitars that kerrang merrily while bookending a record with soul covers, you're going to get assigned the post-post-mod tag.
There's plenty of not-quite-as-old-fashioned post-punk guitar rock, too. (Mr. Weller, say howdy to Mr. Malkmus.) You get your dose of postmodernism when Thorn detaches himself to comment on his "growing up is getting old" pun during the album's absolutely monumental title track. Elsewhere, "Don't Want" echoes Nick Lowe's "Music for Money," and when Thorn sings the words "get happy" in "Anynow, Anythere, Anyday," you're gonna think Elvis, the Attractions and their toast to Stax. Call this post-Stiff.
OK, enough. Here's some audience advice: Toss that pile of post-whatever to the wind, and go along for Thorn's ride here, one that's frequently exhilarating and, more importantly, never once boring. Don't waste time trying to categorize a song like "Made for Woman," which starts off all doo-woppy before turning into a mid-period Old 97's primed shuffle. Instead, bask in the kind of demented brilliance that can conjure the triple rhyme "The soft serve is swirled/ The Twizzlers are twirled/ That flag has been unfurled" and back it with Tommygun guitar, as Thorn and company do on "Slap! Slap!" And then congratulate them on bringing the exclamation mark back into rock.
As for those two soul covers, the album-closing "People Get Ready" is so sincere that you want to give the whole band a hug. And when their ragged-but-Real Kids take on "Expressway to Your Heart" hits full thump in the chorus, only those who wear their top buttons fastened (without fashion) will be able to avoid shaking something. Relive and let live.