Our House on the Hill is the crispest garage record this year. The Babies still have the market cornered on autumnal pop that eschews grit for grace. But all of the album's warmth comes with a nice bratty edge.
On "Mess Me Around," the final verse consists of a string of insults. It has all the crass delight of the Descendents' "I'm Not a Loser" without the homophobic slurs.
In fact, the album is consistently aggressive in its lyrics while staying shimmery and honeyed in its guitar-work. On "Moonlight Mile," singer Kevin Morby tells the addressee, "You better watch your step / You better show respect / You better watch your mouth!" On "Mean"—a song that's a bit too cutesy—the chorus goes, "You're mean, mean, mean, mean / And it hurts my feelin's."
With Morby's other band, Woods, putting out a mature record in Bend Beyond this year, Our House on the Hill feels like Morby blowing off steam. If so, co-conspirator Cassie Ramone is the perfect accomplice. (Last year's Vivian Girls album was, after all, their cheekiest yet.)
Our House is teenage kicks done right, a syrupy blast of sneering pop that will make you feel like it's 1963, and you just got grounded. This is the record you can blast defiantly in your bedroom.