The Stolen Sweets 

Sleepytime in Chinatown

The Stolen Sweets' second album is suspiciously free of phonograph pops and hisses. That's about the only evidence that, while listening to the album, you didn't slip through a wormhole tucked between your couch cushions into the 1930s.

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If you pucker at the notion of vintage music, allow The Stolen Sweets' sugary-smooth three-part vocal harmonies to sooth your sour impressions. Inspired by Depression-era radio stars the Boswell Sisters, this Portland,Ore.-based band delivers that music to the modern recession with inspired vocal arrangements supported by brisk acoustic guitar, double bass and drums. Longtime Northwest musician Pete Krebs, a friend and collaborator of late indie icon Elliott Smith, mixes his own silky singing with that of bandmates Lara Michell, Erin Sutherland and Jen Bernard like cream into coffee. And the results are just as tasty.

The songs periodically slink around in coy flirtation, while elsewhere they brazenly charge forward. Sometimes, they do both in the same song with expertly coordinated tempo changes.

This album caught me off guard with its cheerful, toe-tapping infectiousness. It makes me want to don a fedora and sip aged bourbon in a smoky speakeasy. I imagine that's exactly the response The Stolen Sweets is after.

The Stolen Sweets plays the Top Hat Friday, August 6, at 10 PM. $5.

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