Best Friends?

Soft rock is supposed to be easy background noise to a candlelit pasta dinner after which sweet lovemaking happens in front of a fireplace. For those of us who want to hurl at the thought of such clichés, "soft rock" as a label is an insult. Then again, I get suckered in by equally earnest love songs if they're sung by Sam Cooke or Barry White. So, what's the difference? It depends on delivery.

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Seattle band Brad has got a little bit of the puke-factor and a little bit of soul. The band, which made its debut album in 1993, includes Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. Best Friends? was recorded in 2006, but released this month, and it's got some Pearl Jam moments giving its otherwise treacle tone some grit.

Songs like "Believe in Yourself," with the line, "Never you be afraid. Hey now little angel you're always gonna be safe," are just as silly as you can imagine. But others, with equally appalling titles like "Every Whisper" and "One Love Remaining," don't suffer from the same cheesiness. Parts of this album put out enough attitude and soulful 1970s-styled guitar to worm their way into the brain and, subsequently, into a cynical heart.

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