Better with age?

61/49 (Web Entertainment Records)
The Romantics

By Kory Wilcoxson

You'd expect a band from Detroit to be tough, but the steely determination of the Romantics makes Eminem look like Vanilla Ice. The band scored a few hits way back in the '80s, including the now ubiquitous "What I Like About You," only to see their future suffocated in a series of legal battles with their former managers. Any band with common sense would have given up.

But the Romantics are uncommon and their victory dance is made complete with the release of 61/49, a full 17 years after their last album. Gone are the cheesy look-alike suits and shallow '80s sound (although the '80s hairstyles still abound). In their place are pure power pop licks that gave that the band its soul 25 years ago, without all the gloss and sheen.

The sound of 61/49 is sloppy and full of distortion, which gives it its character. Wouldn't you expect a group from Detroit to sound like a garage band? Songs like "The Devil in Me" and "When the Angels (Hear Me Callin')" are driven by unfiltered rock 'n' roll energy and the feeling that the band is finally doing things the way they wanted in the first place.

The tempo lags on the last two tracks, as the band finishes off the disc with the semi-autobiographical "Still We Remain." Remain they do; and thankfully so.