With so many ’90s indie-rock bands cashing in on the nostalgia pangs of graying Gen-Xers by doing reunion tours, where does that leave Radical Dads, a Brooklyn trio merely inspired by those groups? In a pretty good spot, actually. First off, most of those reformed bands aren’t making new records, and if they were, they likely wouldn’t sound as scrappy or energetic as Radical Dads’ debut, Mega Rama. The wiry melodies clanked out by guitarists Lindsay Baker and Chris Diken, which surge and retreat on alternating waves of furious feedback and bright-eyed jangle as hopped-up drummer Robbie Guertin holds down the rhythm section, strongly recall an unheralded period in rock history that’s suddenly considered legendary. But “being there” the first time isn’t required to appreciate Mega Rama’s many charms.
The most prominent of those charms is the steady stream of catchy hooks, which makes songs like the strutting “Alondra Rainbow Under Attack” and pensive “No New Faces” instantly appealing. But Radical Dads’ canny pop sense comes with a heavy dose of punk-rock attitude, like on “Harvest Artist,” where Baker tames her banshee wail on the verses before letting rip on the chorus, as Guertin swings wildly in search of something to bash. On “Walking Wires,” Radical Dads pull it together to make the biggest noise on Mega Rama, building to a dramatic finish of shoegaze-style euphoria before promptly finishing and getting on with the next song. It’s an appropriate lack of self-indulgence for a band looking to create goodwill, not live off it.