Imagine a day at the beach on a lazy summer day with a half-read book strewn in the sand, a cooler of ice-cold drinks at arm's reach, and a Discman playing the perfect album to capture the moment.

Imagine a day at the beach on a lazy summer day with a half-read book strewn in the sand, a cooler of ice-cold drinks at arm's reach, and a Discman playing the perfect album to capture the moment. Teenage Fanclub's Howdy! fits the bill to a tee, with its plush harmonies and simple pop themes lending itself to just such a postcard-perfect escapade. On the group's sixth full-length effort, endearing songs about the light-hearted side of life and love abound. From album opener "I Need Direction," with its Beach Boys-sounding backing vocals amidst happily aimless lyrics, to such tracks as "Near You" and "The Sun Shines From You," which both touch on unattainable love, listeners can breathe easily. There's nothing harsh or grungy from the songwriting style of this trio (Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley). On the contrary, it's pure cotton candy for the ears, and it sounds sublime.—JP