These Chicago glam rockers seem determined to unite late-’70s power-pop hooks with boogiefied guitar grit. On paper, at least, the mixture sounds fairly promising. The neat-freaks who wore skinny ties and played power-pop in the ’70s were almost never loose enough; conversely, their pleasant harmonies could make a messy metal band like Enuff Z’Nuff sound more humane. Sadly, on Strength, the group’s second album, singer Donnie Vie adopts an Elvis Costello-like whine until the conscious or unconscious affectation becomes one big adenoidal annoyance. The riffs are noisier and less nostalgic than they were on the first record, and unexpected cellos and violas help dramatize Vie’s tenderness and rage. Yet the arrangements are so convoluted that the hooks disintegrate. Not even ”In Crowd,” a ditty about an ostracized kid with unhip record-buying habits, comes off like the teen-outcast anthem it deserves to be. C+

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