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High Strung | These Are Good Times | review | pop | rock | Lollipop

The High Strung

These Are Good Times (Tee Pee)
by Brian Varney

Coming from way the fuck out of left field, These Are Good Times is an album of sugary pop songs that has as much in common with the stuff Tee Pee normally releases as my singing voice does with Paul Rodgers'. Not that I'm complaining, mind you [though your neighbors are. -Ed.]. Coming from the same Detroit pop scene that's blessed the world with terrific recent releases by The Sights and Outrageous Cherry, The High Strung compose pop songs worthy of being mentioned alongside those two fine bands. One listen to These Are Good Times is enough to inspire me to search the Internet for evidence of previous releases, which I'll be ordering shortly.

These 13 brilliantly shiny songs are the sort of pop that grabs me every time, all stacked harmony vocals and crystalline Rickenbacker guitar lines that make you wanna throw your head back and sing along. Opener "Wretched Boy" has those deadly ascending harmonies that snare me each and every time and, indeed, I was singing along by the end of my first spin, which is a good sign.

Before I completely scare away the sort of folks who usually buy Tee Pee releases, I should say that there's a fair amount of rock lurking in these pop grooves. Nobody's gonna confuse this for High on Fire, but the fuzz-bass break on "Show a Sign of Life" and the gnashing final third of "The World's Smallest Violin" - whose ratcheted guitar yammering brings Hüsker Dü to mind - are probably enough to scare off the lame "Power pop, please, but could you hold the power?" scooter-riding fucks.

If I were feeling really clever, I'd conjure the name of some obscure power-pop band to reference, but since my copy of the Break-Up! discography is not handy, I'll have to settle for comparing them to Redd Kross. Not so much because the two bands sound alike, but rather because of the way they both manage to stealthily weave rock elements into their bewitching pop sound without sacrificing the power or clarity necessary for pop success, which These Are Good Times achieves.
(PO Box 20307 New York, NY 10009)

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