(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CD review - The Posies, Blood/Candy (2010)

The Posies haven't strayed too far from their sonic past. On Blood/Candy (due out September 28), they're still writing clever indie rock/power pop songs that balance wordiness with interesting musical structure. This isn't a rehash, though. The Posies sound modern and relevant, recalling more recent acts like Guided By Voices or Fountains of Wayne.

A few tracks, like Accidental Architecture, move beyond power pop into uncharted territory. This one is experimental in an early '70s style. It bounces between dissonance and harmonious sections, occasionally lurching into an easy jazz vibe. On the other hand, For the Ashes is arty, dressing up like progressive rock. The tension of the verses breaks for a processional bridge. These songs are good but aren't typical of Blood/Candy.

Instead, most the tracks stay within the Posies' comfort zone. Even within their indie rock realm, though, there's a lot of tonal variety: So Caroline, with its Fountains of Wayne vocals, Licenses to Hide, which features Lisa Lobsinger of Broken Social Scene, and Notion 99, which could have come from a Smithereens album. These are all strong songs and they don't all melt together.

The pinnacle of Blood/Candy is She's Coming Down Again. It starts with some sinuous melodic bass work that's highlighted with piano frills. The song see saws between reflective verses and a strong power pop chorus, complete with retro vocal harmonies. The lyrical phrasing is as good as anything the Posies have ever done. The balance between short fast fragments and longer held words creates a flow where each line extends the last one, sometimes shifting the direction of the sentence. The lyrics paint the picture of a girl whose life has spun out of control:
There's no funeral
Just the usual
Gathering in a small town
You never heard of
You thought that you knew her
She never told you she was
Sooo far from home
But home was simply the last place
The last place that she was looking for
That was your mistake...
Blood/Candy should satisfy older Posies fans and attract some new ones. The clever lyrics, cool sonic textures, tight arrangements, and catchy tunes make this perfect for the car or the iPod. Pour an Arnold Palmer and enjoy the ride.

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