Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Friday, August 29, 2003

Honey In The Hive
The Bigger Lovers
2002 - Yep Roc

This is another case of what could have been. While all the requirements for a good pop record are here, and there are definitely some moments of pure pop ecstasy, it somehow manages to fall short overall.

It opens with "Half Richard's," a power pop number with some good crunchy guitar, wonderful harmonies, and a melody that is instantly stuck in the head. The next track, "A Simple 'How Are You?'" is more of the same, but a bit more rhythmic. But then the album settles into a nice midtempo groove, and the momentum from the opening tracks is lost and not regained until track 8, "What Would It Take?" This is the same problem I had with the Simian record (We Are Your Friends) I reviewed a while back; these guys know their way around a hook, but play it a bit too conservatively in the albums middle section to really keep you sucked into the album. This seems to be a bit too common in the indie pop sphere these days. A few exceptional songs surrounded by songs that are good, but fail to meet the same standards set elsewhere on the album. Consequently, the album feels flat. There are two keys to great pop music: accessibility and vitality. Songs like The Raspberries "Tonight" or Cheap Trick's "Surrender" are classic because they are inviting and are bursting with energy. Yet, all too often, including on this record, the songs--while well-crafted and immediately enjoyable--lack the punch, that toe-tapping feeling, that makes you want to put it on repeat. It's particularly unfortunate in this case, because the album closes strongly, with the Posies-esque "Ivy Grows" and the Smiley Smile-era Beach Boys nugget, "Minivan Blues." The latter isn't particularly energetic, but it's so different from the majority of the album that it has a charm all its own. Plus, it feels like a perfect album closer, even if a lot of the songs that precede it aren't worthy of such.