Over the past few years, local pop rockers the Damn Personals have achieved some national attention and a reputation for drunkenly chaotic performances. On their debut album for Big Wheel Recreation, you could even say that their catchy, modish rock had charm — but sometimes it seemed like a secondary concern. That was then. On Standing Still in the USA, the band’s sophomore CD, more carefully crafted songs and tighter playing means that their harder, dirtier guitar-driven pop combusts but never crashes and burns. And though the music runs riot with bluesy bravado, singer Ken Cook wraps his dramatic falsetto around super-catchy vocal melodies.
The title track features a solid vocal hook supported by scratchy guitars; "Models and Airliners" has a mid-tempo swagger, operatic vocals, and a big, arena-ready guitar salvo. There are places where the Damn Personals could stand to pull back: "Sleeping on the Floors United" really does sound like Queen, and the two five-minute epics drag a bit. But with their second album, the Damn Personals have buckled down and come up with a self-assured soundtrack for everything that earned them their early reputation — drinking, flirting, and fooling around.