New Move, New Move (Bug Hunt)

A student of classic pop songcraft releases his thesis.

[POP OF AGES] Jesse Bettis knows how to get inside your head. A high-order pop technician, he builds songs using only the finest parts, rummaged from the universal pleasure chest of 20th-century sounds—the Beatles and Beach Boys, doo-wop and glam rock—and refinished with modern production gloss. Whether that makes him a well-studied classicist or a historical scavenger depends on how much innovation you demand of your songwriters, but you can't come away from New Move's debut full-length without at least a few tunes tunneling through your heart and burrowing into your brain. It hums like a classic car, and in some cases like the Cars—the fizzy "No One But Her" even nicks a melodic phrase from "My Best Friend's Girl." "Stegosaurus" is more T. Rex, the heated guitar acting as Bettis' wingman as he asks to "taste your honeydew," while "Don't Wanna Lose" is a master class in soul-pop buoyancy, all plinking keys and horn accents and sweet falsetto. While the music itself, colored by an ace five-piece band, has personality plus, Bettis' own tends to get lost in the songcraft. But it's hard not to admire his ambition. "When did we stop aiming for the top?" he sings on the '50s-style slow-dance "When Did We Stop." That's not a problem for Bettis, though: He reaches for his idols, and damn near touches them.

SEE IT: New Move plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., with Lola Buzzkill, on Sunday, Jan. 31. 8:30 pm. Free. 21+.

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