Juicy and Colorful

What Color Are You? (Cropduster Records)

The Crayons

By Jason Daniel

I love Jujyfruits - the fruity ones only. I pick out the black ones. The Crayons' debut album is like that greatest of finds: a box of Jujies with the black ones already removed. The melodies grab you immediately; you don't have to think too hard about it, they stick in your brain for weeks afterward and there's hardly a bad taste in the whole package.

The Crayons are a group of power pop purveyors with a knack for hooks and harmonies that keep you humming afterward to the point of distraction. A huge reason for this album's accessibility lies in the production, which was handled by The Churchills. I had never heard of them, but apparently I should have - the CD has a large graphic giving them production credits. Name-dropping aside, the Churchills know what they're doing. The opening track, "Allyson Fell Off the Bike," is a classic example. The guitars jangle in the right places, the chorus soars and the fills add just the right amount of texture.

On first listen, I had the Crayons pegged as a British band - lead singer/songwriter Keith C. has that accent going on ("way" sounds like "why") and many of the band's songs recall past masters of Britpop. "Cruz," a song written from the perspective of a friend lost in 9/11, brings to mind Oasis and "Today" has a dead-on Smiths sound. "Say Hello" even ends with a reference to the Beatles song "Hello Goodbye." As it turns out, the Crayons hail from New Jersey. Given this, they could have done a lot worse for influences (thankfully absent are any Bon Jovi power ballads). Like many well-tweaked British pop albums (XTC's Skylarking comes to mind), the Crayons rely on a variety of guitar sounds (check out the chiming Rickenbacker on "Today" or the chunky fuzz riff on "I'm in a Jar") to add color to basic pop songs about typical subjects like the unapproachable girl or the blissful day spent in the park ("A Sunshine Parade").

While the Crayons don't break any new ground sonically, they put together a very likeable debut album by relying on a can't-miss formula of catchy melody and sharp production. Color me impressed ... and pass the Jujyfruits.