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CRACKERS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Guaranteed (Edison) 1983
Contraband EP (Edison) 1984

Albuquerque, New Mexico is home to these five clean-cut kids in suits and sneakers. (They're not related to the Beat Rodeo-related Crackers.) Guaranteed offers a remarkably accurate, ingenuous merseybeat sound: ten charming slices of memorable guitar pop with magnificent harmony vocals. On Contraband, having swapped one guitarist for a keyboard player, Crackers sound far less crisp (sorry). In fact, from the mild leer of the routine-rock "Skinny Girls," it's obvious the band is contemplating a major stylistic mistake. Two of the five tunes preserve the album's Freddie and the Dreamers pop bounce, but the EP suffers from too little exuberance and too many lyrical clichés.

[Ira Robbins]