the White Stripes' breakthrough, the Singles received a bit of international acclaim for their debut album, 2003's Better Than Before, but like a number of other Motor City bands, the hype machine didn't turn over for them, and four years later, leader Vince Frederick is fronting a new lineup of Singles for the pointedly titled Start Again. However, Frederick thankfully is still in firm command of the gifts that made the earlier version of the band memorable -- British Invasion style melodies, pop hooks galore, and plenty of energy, with the results sounding a good bit more like the Flamin' Groovies than, say, fellow Detroiters the Dirtbombs. Frederick wrote a dozen solid pop songs for this set, and he sings them with commendable spirit and force, and his new rhythm section (John Hale on bass and Brian Thunders on drums) are entirely simpatico, knowing when to push hard on a rocker like "I Want You Back Now" or "Start Again" and when to ease back on the more measured "Better Days" and the heart-broken "I Don't Wanna Be the Last to Know." Jim Diamond, who produced Better Than Before, is back behind the board for this set, and he gives the Singles a full-bodied sound that's equally friendly to the crunchy guitars and the precise harmonies. If you ever wondered what happened to power pop, it's alive and well and living in the Singles' rehearsal space, and with any luck, Start Again will earn this band the recognition they so richly deserve.
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