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Tinted Windows: Summery Pop For Springtime

Every day this week, Song of the Day will showcase a track by an artist playing the South by Southwest music festival. For NPR Music's full coverage of SXSW — complete with full-length concerts, studio sessions, blogs, Twitter feeds, video and more --click here. And don't miss our continuous six-hour playlist, The Austin 100, which features much more of the best music the festival has to offer.

Tinted Windows' high-concept lineup seems almost perverse — Taylor Hanson of Hanson, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins and Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick — but the power-pop supergroup's music sounds more or less exactly like a fusion of those four sensibilities. More to the point, its self-titled debut album sounds as if it's been pulled straight out of Schlesinger's (figurative) Pop-O-Matic songwriting machine: the same one that's churned out candy-coated hooks for The Wonders and Josie and the Pussycats, The Click Five and, of course, the band that made him famous in the first place.

Given the lineup and Schlesinger's long history with this sort of material, Tinted Windows' music can't help but feel a tiny bit mercenary. But it's hard to deny the playfulness and joy at the heart of "Kind of a Girl," with its "whoa-ooh-oh" choruses and its buzzy guitars. There are far worse things than four polished pop professionals who can churn out sunny pop with brutal efficiency. Besides, what would springtime be without them?

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)