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Love Junky (ZYX Music)
The Popguns

By Allen Howie

Seldom has a band been tagged with a name as appropriate as this one. The Popguns (singer Wendy Morgan, lead guitarist Greg Dixon, guitarist Simon Pickles, bassist/keyboard man Pat Washington and drummer Bill Cox) take their melody-laden songs of love and loss, then launch them with ringing guitars and muscular rhythms that send each tune home like a SCUD missile.

Morgan sings a lot like an American Kirsty MacColl; her voice can sound both irresistibly sweet and edgy all at once. |It's an instrument perfectly suited to the dozen songs that make up Love Junky, the band's latest release.

But the Popguns aren't just a gifted singer fronting her band. This sounds every inch a group effort, with Cox' drums nailing each song into place while Dixon and Pickles take the core emotion of the moment and ratchet the intensity up a few notches until it glows.

This isn't to say that every song is a big sonic blast. The band knows the value of subtlety, which lets the heartache at the center of tunes like "Second Time Around" and "Someone to Dream Of" sink its roots even deeper.

The group's name also fits their lyrics, which often put a steely edge on every emotion from love to loneliness. This isn't your typical Gen-X navel-gazing angst-fest: whatever the mood, every song here is at thoughtful thought-provoking look through someone else's eyes at a world where things seldom seem to fit.

If there's any justice in the world, tunes like the oddly upbeat, wonderfully catchy "A Miserable Boy" will soon be monopolizing a radio near you. But this being the kind of world it is, don't wait - latch onto Love Junky now, then gloat when your friends all catch up.