Some of us are a tough sell when it comes to the childlike tone of do-it-yourself folk punk bands. Kazoos and off-key, cutesy vocals usually make me want to set everything on fire—anything to escape the sense that I've been dropped into the middle of a kindergarten music class full of giant children. Destroy Nate Allen teeters into that silly, affected sandbox often enough. But when the husband-wife duo hold back a bit, it becomes clear how talented they are. On Until My Ankle's Better, the Conor Oberst-style of "The Circle Must Be Broken" (a tip of the hat to the traditional Christian hymn, perhaps?) and the anthemic "Fruit Punch and Alcohol" are playful without feeling toddler-like. Same goes for the Springsteen-style "Small Town," which is the most subdued song on the album, and also the most moving. Nate sings wistfully along to a mournful organ: "Got caught on punk rock. Green Day changed my life in '94. Many years later, I still like dancing circles on the floor." It's a nostalgic detail that brings me back to being a youngster far more effectively than any classroom sing-a-long ever could.
Destroy Nate Allen plays the Zootown Arts Community Center Tuesday, June 7, at 8 PM with Yester, Candyland Liberation Front, and The Whoopass Girls. $5.