All Music Guide

The Foxymorons have been at it since the late ’90s but release albums pretty rarely, which leaves everyone with plenty of time (and good reason) to get excited by another record. Though the praise given to the band is frequently filtered through comparisons to other acts from the various heydays of power pop — the bandmembers themselves make it a point to note an affinity for Big Star and Pavement — on Bible Stories they craft a charmingly ramshackle collection of songs that render tracing steps in the annals of rock a moot point. The central duo of David Dewese and Jerry James trade off on the vocals and must attack their respective songs pretty differently: not that they specify who’s-who, but it’s clear that one is remarkably adept at delivering memorably conversational lines in raggedy, endearingly tossed-off little packages, and the other is more of a classicist in approach. This voice is the one responsible for the more lush and meticulous material, while the aforementioned occupies a comparatively ambiguous place, trading in the sort of substantive humor that may have given birth to the delightful absurdism of the album’s moniker, not to mention the band name itself. In songs of this persuasion, colorfully in-the-moment character encounters like “At the Dairy Queen you talk so obscene” strike a circuitous poeticism and fanciful interplay with the alternating instances where ever-active melodies take center stage. At the end of the day, they’re great as a collective, reveling in an outsider’s glory and bashing it out, and alternatively toning it down for high point after high point. The changing of the guards is used to maximum effect where the gorgeous lullaby “This Too Shall Pass” — echoing an Elliott Smith-by-way-of-Jeff Hanson quality in its disarming falsetto — is grounded by the ultra-satisfying guitar rock of “Say It Aloud.” Later, the amusing archetypical portraits of folks from the lateral opposites of Boston and Portland define dreams of escape on “Sick of California,” and the images are allegorical enough to offset the sobering narrative of a disenchanted band trying to make it in the modern-day climate. The joke, though, is really on the fair-weather friends who only “Tell you what you want to hear/’You’ll make the album of the year'”: the truth is, with this well-rounded stash of ten undeniably rousing Bible Stories, the Foxymorons have come awfully close.