The Amps: Pacer (1995)

After the unexpected success of the Breeders' 1993 Last Splash album, Kim Deal reconfigured the band (with Breeders drummer Jim Macpherson and 2 new members) as the Amps, while her twin sister Kelley took a break due to some drug issues. They released a lone album, Pacer, and it's great -- though somehow never getting the same love as Last Splash.

Some of this is understandable. It's a stripped down affair, with no-frills lo-fi production, sounding a lot more like Deal's sometimes-cohorts in Guided by Voices, who broke out the same year (and whose Robert Pollard co-wrote Pacer's "I Am Decided"). Certainly there's no massive, shiny, alt.rock radio-friendly hit like "Cannonball" or "Divine Hammer." But it's still got plenty of hooks, no less poppy overall than Last Splash (which had its share of challenging tunes), while perhaps showing greater affinity for Deal's post-punk inclinations from her days in the Pixies.

As with the Breeders, the main attraction here is Deal's girlish and vulnerable (yet somehow sultry) lead vocals, coupled with some simple and unabashedly infectious pop turns. The title track is a mid-tempo confection that will stick in your head for days; "Tipp City" merges the Beach Boys with the harder edge of the Breeders; "Bragging Party" churns out a low-key but deeply insinuating groove; "Decided" is every bit the jagged indie pop one would expect from a Pollard/Deal collaboration; thrashy "Full On Idle" recalls the earliest Pixies work; and "She's A Girl" is joyful noisy power pop that sounds like a Last Splash outtake.

Some of the balance is a little rougher, reminiscent of the first Breeders LP Pod (that album's producer Steve Albini helmed a few tracks), but all rendered entrancing by virtue of Deals' disarming vocal delivery.

Here's the video for the title track:
...and for "Tipp City":
Here's an audio rip of "She's A Girl":
Here's a complete Amps gig from '95: