Busted

If I were a zit-faced underage dude with a spit-shined Camaro and a cooler full of beer, Busted would make perfect highway fodder to take my mind off the slow clicking of the odometer. Like 1988's successful Lap of Luxury, Cheap Trick's latest album offers exactly what everyone's learned to expect from this band: fast and loud or mildly soft music buried in clichés that chronicles standard teenage shopping-mall angst.

The boys, who've been churning out albums since 1977, by now have a spiel that's so predictable they could franchise it to Cher or Richard Marx. Robin Zander (vocals), Rick Neilsen (guitar), Tom Petersson (bass) and Bun E. Carlos (drums) are all capable musicians, but their songs are as dumb and generic as they come. The tunes range from your typical get-ready-for-the-weekend-and-love-me-dammit prototypes, like "Black n' Blue" and "You Drive, I'll Steer," to your Bon Joviesque I'm-a-rock-&-roll-touring-cowboy-and-I-love-you-baby songs, like "When You Need Someone." Busted contains only two deviations: "Walk Away," a soulful effort with Chrissie Hynde providing backing vocals, and the uncontrived "Rock 'n' Roll Tonight," a rollicking tune reminiscent of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting." It's too bad that the two songs can't carry the weight of a whole recording.

If Cheap Trick continues to ignore the whole realm of originality by singing semimetal tunes that sound like Top Gun soundtrack rejects, the members should sport tattoos, chains and leather. It surely would make for a more interesting show.