Boston’s Orbit is one of those bands that was — and now once again is — far better off on their own indie label than they ever were on a major. After releasing a bunch of 7-inches and an EP on their own Lunch Records in the mid-’90s, Orbit was signed to and then dropped from A&M after releasing Libido Speedway. Since then, they’ve switched around the lineup, added a fourth member to beef up the songs, and released the seven-song Tonedeaf on Lunch. Where Libido was seeped in overt sexuality to the point of irritation, Tonedeaf remains free from such distractions while still holding on to much of the band’s effective Boston crunch-pop sound. Kicking off with the amazingly infectious and rocking “Electric,” Tonedeaf‘s style shifts sinuously throughout the rest of the album. Moving through the straight pop of “Fade Away,” the slightly Morphine-esque horn-style of “Radio Whore,” and eventually to the smoky, softer “Nice Ride” finale, Tonedeaf displays a wonderful range of styles in only seven songs. Sure, there are still some amorous undertones, but their subtlety adds to the music this time around rather than distracting from it. Orbit has proven once again with Tonedeaf that some bands are a whole lot better off away from the majors..

Lunch Records, P.O. Box 38110, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02238; http://www.lunchrecords.com, http://www.orbitband.com.

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