Pop music exists in so many forms that the term is meaningless: Gin Blossoms, The Posies, Nirvana, Hanson, Matthew Sweet, and Green Day are all pop, but do all those acts really belong in the same sentence? Besides, when a pop song really works, genre classifications—and, in the case of the guilty pleasure Harvey Danger, annoyingly smug lyrics—scarcely matter. Wade and Ridel High are two new, still-obscure entries in the high-stakes pop sweepstakes: Their major-label debuts (Odd Man Out and Emotional Rollercoaster, respectively) have yet to commercially emerge from an unfathomably cluttered slew of unknown, heavily marketed radio contenders. But if there's any justice, the Swedish band Wade will explode soon enough. Odd Man Out, its domestic debut, is a shockingly consistent collection of awesome anthems, from the chimingly winsome "Howsoever" to the head-spinningly catchy "Sit Down." Lamentably, the big-single-in-waiting is "Elvis," a perfunctory, repetitive slab of one-hit-wonder kitsch, but those who dig a single minute deeper will find guilty pop joys not heard since the days before the backlash downed Weezer. If the record hits, you'll soon grow tired of the band's ham-fisted hooks, dopey lyrics, and affection for snowboarding. For now, though, Odd Man Out sounds like the best pop album of the year. Ridel High has a tough time living up to the standard set by Wade—hell, who asked it to?—but Emotional Rollercoaster has its own share of likably hooky pop-rock. Upliftingly sappy cotton candy like "180," "Another Song About Lying," "Places People Hide Their Money," and "Mouthful Of You" render the record a mindless success. Even the starry-eyed, smoochy ballad "Galaxy Girl" is catchy enough to transcend the saccharine overdose, while the band's dopey, Grease-inspired name is mitigated by the fact that the singer's name is Kevin Ridel. The whole affair does get a bit samey after a while, but it's awfully tough to dislike an album that hits its mark as often as this one does.

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