Originally released in 1996 on the now defunct Flipside label, Letter Bomb is a killer example of pop-punk from the era before it became a dirty word. Actually, the Crowd have a fair claim to being among the originators of the style: alongside fellow Orange County bands like Agent Orange, the Adolescents, and the Vandals in their first incarnation circa 1978-1982, the Crowd were always just a little more melodic than their loud-fast-rules compatriots, sort of the missing link between the L.A. power pop scene of the late '70s and the hardcore kids. Breaking up following the release of the fine A World Apart LP and regrouping in 1988, the Crowd basically continued along exactly the same path, smartly ignoring the pathetic side turns into either goth or hair metal that derailed so many of their compatriots. Only the third full-length album the Crowd had managed to release in nearly 20 years, Letter Bomb is a crisply recorded blast of three-chord, two-minute buzzsaw pop songs in the tradition started by the Buzzcocks. Overtly, in fact: two songs here, "Time's Up" and "Love You More," are note-perfect Buzzcocks covers right down to lead singer Jim Decker assuming a faux British accent that he doesn't use on the originals. (A perfectly fine and equally faithful take on Generation X's "Your Generation" is the other cover here.) The half-dozen bonus tracks, recorded around the same time, are the equal of the 12 on the original disc, with the bracing "Life's a Pill" and "Dig Yourself" the particular standouts. A near-forgotten example of California pop-punk in its purest form, Letter Bomb is an unpretentious delight.