In the current musical lexicon, there’s one term that strikes fear into the hearts of aficionados and critics alike: pop music. Pop has the ability to incite disgust in even the most forgiving of music lovers. The expression has come to signify everything that is wrong with the music industry today.

Jessica Boullion
Freaky. (Courtesy of Doghouse)

It’s clear that the state of pop music is worse than ever, as evidenced by the fact that some of the most downloaded songs on iTunes are obvious winners like “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper) … ” by T-Pain & Mike Jones and “L.O.V.E.” by none other than Ashlee Simpson, probably the last girl on earth who is worthy of presenting her opinion on the subject.

But thankfully, there are a few bands who are delivering the term “pop” back from whence it came – back to a mythical place where Tom Petty and the Beach Boys sip drinks in a sunny yard with Wilco and Big Star. That band is Limbeck.

Wrongfully condemned as just another Urban Outfitters band, along with London indie-pop rockers Bloc Party and the dreamy trio of Doves, Limbeck makes a strong showing on their latest effort, Let Me Come Home. The third release from the California natives is chock full of delectable pop hooks, solid guitar work and summery, alt-country seasoning.

Robb MacLean’s scratchy yet cheerful voice carries listeners through a sunny roadtrip with songs like “Everyone’s in the Parking Lot,” the languishing, dusty “Sin City” and “Watchin’ the Moon Rise Over Town,” a track that sounds more like an old Mitch Ryder rock-out than a recent indie release.

The album’s only real downfall is that the disc sometimes lapses into repetition; too many of the songs give off the same happy, pass-the-sunscreen vibe. Granted, even Limbeck’s filler songs are typically more skillful and exciting than the vast majority of the Billboard Top 40 list, it’s clear that the band has got more to offer than an album that is 40 percent fluff.

Perhaps one day “pop music” won’t evoke images of oiled-up, half-naked women gyrating their way out of thongs or whiny, overproduced American Idol winners. One day, “pop” might become credible again. And if it’s in the cards, Limbeck will be there to welcome the movement with a line like, “We’re sittin’ in a burnt-out car with a long way to go.”

Let Me Come Home

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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