If 2010 is the year of the indie-rock hangover, at least the new decade is starting off with a little hair of the dog—in the form of The Soft Pack’s self-titled debut. Listen with half an ear, and you might mistake the San Diego group (formerly known as The Muslims) for another post-Strokes outfit. Granted, The Soft Pack has knife-edged pop riffs and crooned vocals galore. But a closer probe reveals a knack for punky songcraft and caffeinated oomph that could have easily been inherited from fellow San Diego group Hot Snakes. The demented Hawaiian lap-steel on the song “Mexico” may not win the band high marks in ethnomusicology, but it lends an air of loopy abandon to an already hypnotic and unhinged song. Even better, The Soft Pack isn’t afraid of real guitar solos—big, noisy, joyously disjointed ones, the kind Dave Davies once mutilated his amplifier speakers in search of. “Kinda flammable, this place,” babbles frontman Matt Lamkin over and over in the middle of the jumpy, catchy “Flammable.” The same could be said of The Soft Pack as a whole. And it’s a good burn.

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