Jamie Hoover and company are back doing what they do best. One of the
finest power pop bands of Beatlesque heritage, The Spongetones have
influenced a whole new generation of musicians from James Deem, The
Saving Graces, Frank Royster, Cool King Chris, Crisis, Analog Daze, The
Dukes of Stratford, Carl Rosen, Lindy Dobbins, The Sammies, and The
Everyday Things. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. After we
establish the triumphant Rickenbacker jangle of “Invisible Girl” it sets
the tone here and then we get to the first great Spongetones classic in
“I’d Love You” with it’s “Got To You Into My Life” guitar coda after
the chorus. Hoover still has a McCartney-like sense of melody with the
easy flowing “Man With No Skin.” And the band has evolved their Fab
sound, not unlike the way XTC had done during it’s “Oranges and Lemons”
era – the toe tapping “One More Day” is a great example of this. A huge
amount of tracks here, eighteen – and it’s almost overwhelming. On the
other hand, with a large majority of the music great, you can excuse a
bit of indulgence here and there. Sometimes, the earnest romantic vibe
strays into maudlin territory, with “Three Kisses For You” sounding like
a Frodo Baggins-inspired love ballad.
But even among the really good
tracks here, you get a true monster hit like “When it’s you” with an
amazing hook that never lets go, and includes vocal harmonic gymnastics
that would shame Lindsey Buckingham and chord changes guaranteed to give
you goosebumps. This is why others bow to the genius of Mr. Hoover.
Then again, Hoover tests the limits of the band, and it’s ability to
make quirky pop a la Moe Berg or Andy Partridge. It does work well on
“She’s Happenin'” and less so on “Easy with You.” Other worthy classics
are comments on this crazy music business, “King Ampersand” and “Your
Entourage” are wonderful songs that reflect the musicians’ life. Simple
pleasures are found in the bossa nova-styled “Stalemates” and the matter
of fact lyrics in “Must Be Lust.” You almost want the band to cut loose
even more on “Elvis Doctor” with it’s Hound-Dog beat and guitar swing.
Needless to say, this is super-recommended to everyone who loves great
One of the great bands who nothing left of her strenghts of writing and arranging wonderful power pop tunes.