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If John Hughes were still making movies today, the soundtracks might include Muhammadali. The Houston pop punk band offers the kind of youthful celebration and angst that Sixteen Candles or Uncle Buck does. Fuzz-based anthems whip up into a fury of angular riffs, but none of the songs ever end in despair.

"You Don't Miss Me" is garage pop that calls for dancing on the hood of the car, even if the lyrics are about heartbreak. "Elephant" is a hyperactive track perfect for letting loose at a video arcade. You can imagine hurtling through space as hostile ships try to take you down with their star blasters (there's such a thing, right?). But they never will—these songs are for the heroes who always win. That's not to say the eponymous record is only optimistic. It gets dirty and heavy when it needs to, but the happy thumping of the drums and harmonic gang vocals are an antidote to dark thoughts.

There's no reason this album, which was released on Dirt Cult Records last year, couldn't appeal to a broad range of listeners. The Hughes effect—walking the line between melancholic angst and bright-eyed elation—has appealed to American youth for decades.

Muhammadali plays the VFW Sun., Sept. 8, at 8 PM with Total Combined Weight, The All-Hail and Cob Cob. $5.

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