The Aquabats

Charge!!

[4] Go figure: Just as ska is starting to mount a legitimate comeback nationwide, Southern California’s resident superhero musicians make the full-fledged genre switch from ska to new wave. There’s nothing as instantly memorable as ’Bats classics like “Super Rad” or “Pool Party” on Charge!!, but “Look At Me, I’m A Winner!” recalls Cheap Trick at their finest, and “Hot Summer Nights (Won’t Last Forever)!” could be a Reggie And The Full Effect B-side (if the overt cheesiness were toned down a smidge). Only on “Waterslides!” do the band throw in some upstrokes, with a dub groove thick enough to make Brad Nowell’s ghost envious. Of course, that leads into the hyperactive closing track, “Awesome Forces!,” which reminds you that the Aquabats are, first and foremost, rock soldiers determined to keep the world safe from harm. As if you somehow forgot. (NITRO)-Scott Heisel