There’s no shortage of Boston pop bands — just a paucity of good, original ideas among them. So Major Major’s debut album is a welcome blend of invention and major-key melodies, mixing old- and new-school sounds, sardonic wit, and smart arrangements packed with small surprises. Sure they’re a little artsy. Song titles like "How I Became a Daughter of the Revolution" and "David Byrne" are giveaways. The former blends sinewy guitar riffs with a keening melody and poetic lines about regret and growth, then stops dead in its tracks for a bridge that dives into the Twilight Zone. "David Byrne" is a knockout rocker with a lyric that sounds plucked from the head Head’s head. Even Herb Alpert is given his due in "Wise Guy," a busted-love song that doubles as an ode to a dead mobster, getting some of its gas from a clean, propulsive trumpet line.
Elsewhere, ancient keyboards squeal and squeak, walls of muffled vocals add splashes of color, and odd guitar voices zing through the mix, adding layers of texture to the band’s guitar-bass-drums foundation. The final cut, "The Glare and Haze (Summer Mix)," sounds like a lost gem from the Roger Waters era of Pink Floyd until the two-minute mark, when it flowers into snarling garage pop. Better yet, the clear, regular-guy vocals of Richard Goldman and David R. Walsh always sound sincere, even while they’re screwing with irony. All this makes for a winning balance of playfulness and precision.