The Romantics haven’t released a studio album in 18 years, so you’ll be forgiven for not knowing who they are. Their managers robbed them blind, and their biggest hit, “What I Like About You,” is now more synonymous with television ads than the band that spawned it, but somehow they persevered. After falling off the edge of the earth, they have returned, and that’s something rock fans should be very happy about.

One can imagine the pressure the band was under to return to the fray after all this time, and the burden of expectations presents itself in a good way. Of the 10 tracks contained within 61/49, there’s not a single second of filler. It’s a barrage of quality that makes this album easily the best since their debut.

It’s difficult to pick a standout track among these gems, for each song has the strut of gritty pop-rock that the ’60s was so good at delivering and that I’m so fond of. If one had to pick a highlight, it would be “I Need You,” not a Romantics original at all, but a cover of an old Kinks jam. What makes the song shine so bright is that they take an already great song and outdo its creators, presenting a version that far surpasses the original.

On their comeback album, the Romantics offer no significant innovation or emotional depth. What they bring to the table is rock-solid performances and quality songwriting delivered with a smirk, making their reappearance extremely welcome.
[Drew Atkins likes his wine red, his burritos warm and his women quirky.]