For all its infectious shuffle, reggae is a groove-oriented music, while its bastard offspring ska leans harder on its pop craftsmanship -- loading up on hooks and tightening up the construction. New York's Slackers began in 1990, emerging from the then-nascent third-wave ska revival. But as they've gone along, they've moved closer to ska's traditions, stretching out their sound and trying with varying success to find a middle ground. Their seventh album edges nearer to reggae, but manages to project (thanks to singer Vic Ruggiero's crisp, clear delivery, the band's musicianship and a terrific production job) a sound that acknowledges the past without feeling beholden to it. A fine, mature effort that only occasionally gets long-winded. (The Slackers perform Monday, February 16 at Will's Pub.)
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