Someone fucked Joe Adragna up but good. The lead singer (and everything else) of this local project literally spends nine-tenths of this debut CD mourning his great lost love, with all the hate and regret and lingering affection that entails, pulling up short only on the final track, the skip-out soundtrack “(We’re the) Kings of the Dead End.” But that little excursion doesn’t exactly end Catchy on a high note because this breakup really hurt. Adragna finds echoes of the pain in every single detail, like the empty apartment, the makeup on his shirt, and the bar they used to hang out in. And then there are of course the great philosophical questions. “Would you believe me if I told you I was a liar?” and “Is this all we ever were, an argument that can’t be won?”
This would make for a tremendously depressing listen but for Adragna’s pop-rock classicism, which makes the album everything the title promises (especially on “This Is What We Are”) and which skitters eloquently between jangle, garage revivalism and folky alt-pop. “Dead End,” for example, covers its Cheap Trick road trip with a thin sheen of Foo Fightery snot, while “These Foolish Things” pushes the Cult’s “Wild Flower” opening through Soul Asylum-brand alt.country before downshifting into Smithereens territory. It won’t win awards for ingenuity, and it’s about half too slow to make it on radio these days, but for power-pop fiends—and hopeless romantics who deal with rejection by rocking out—it will serve well.