Brendan Benson probably knew his time in the majors was doomed even before 1996's One Mississippi came out: he had recorded a full version of this album with producer Jason Falkner that was rejected by Virgin in favor of this more straightforward effort. (Falkner's fingerprints are all over this album regardless; he co-wrote over half of the songs, which sound like a more rocking version of tracks from his own major-label bow, Author Unknown. Several of the Falkner-produced tracks were eventually released by Virgin on the vinyl-only promo Well Fed Boy.) Still, you have to give him credit for trying. An album whose catchiest tune's chorus involves a woman tied to a chair and which opens with a heartfelt song called "Tea" (about the hot beverage, not the outdated slang term for marijuana) is not a record that will set charts afire. That said, Benson's gifts as a tunesmith in the Todd Rundgren-meets-Alex Chilton mode are undeniable; the hooks are plentiful and catchy and his appealingly rough voice puts over the relentlessly smart-alecky lyrics well. There are a couple of duff tracks, but the power pop charms of a song like the snarling "Me Just Purely" mostly make up for occasional blunders like the underwritten "Bird's Eye View."