The ideal place for kicking back with Peace
is in the Florida Keys, or maybe the Cayman Islands, where folks tend to leave their cares behind and not sweat the small stuff. That carefree outlook is reflected in My Fine Friend Phil's songs. MFFP, which recently changed its name to the less-cheeky Phil Mann Band, plays straightforward rock that refuses to plumb emotional depths. Instead, the subject of boys and girls in and out of love is treated with an older person's perspective -- a reflective distance that gives good times and bad times equal weight. Fortunately that tendency to stick in the emotional shallow end isn't reflected in the strong performances.
The band's second long-player touts clean production courtesy of Gary Katz (Steely Dan, Joe Cocker). The songs rely on basic, glistening chord progressions and breezy harmonies. "I've Looked Around" and "On My Street" sound like vintage Big Head Todd and the Monsters without the extended jams. Not that the band is afraid of a good old rock 'n' roll guitar solo -- listen to the closing moments of "Selfish". The band, led by songwriter Mann, is in an odd position. Its greatest asset and its greatest drawback are one and the same: MFFP has no gimmick. Even so, if you are tired of boy bands or nü-metal acts that overtly, explicitly detail their adolescent woes, you will be pretty psyched the next time you can kick back in the sun, crack open a cold one and chill to MFFP's mellow, more mature take on life.