Nice Cheekbones and a Ph.D
If there were any doubts about the resurrection of The Posies before this release, they might as well get dumped in the trash now. Sure, you could write off their recent best of and live albums as, respectively, a ploy for cash and a brief reunion commemoration akin to Big Star’s in 1993 at the University of Missouri. The latter argument even gets a little added weight, considering that The Posies’ Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow backed up Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens on that stint.
In any case, this five song EP marks the first release of newly recorded Posies studio songs since the band “broke up” in 1998. The songs — four originals and a cover of David Crosby’s “Lady Friend.” from his Byrds days — tend toward the acoustic, mellow spectrum instead of venturing much into The Posies’ power-pop territory. Even the upbeat songs, “Matinee” and “Lady Friend,” come across as more folksy than anything. “No Consolidation,” a soft, quiet number featuring the first ever banjo in a Posies song, is a gorgeous tune that is destined for a prime spot in a somber movie scene.
The trademark Auer-Stringfellow harmonies are present throughout the EP, and the duo (who, let’s face it, are essentially The Posies by themselves) exhibit a continued penchant for catchy songs and wry lyrics. “Chainsmoking in the USA,” a rhyming couplet of a song that rattles off a list of life’s little ills and produced the EP’s title, even seems to make a subtle reference to Spinal Tap with its “heavy metal and a puppet show” line.
This EP was originally planned as a third anniversary present for the band’s Spanish label, but is now showing up in the States. Just like The Posies’ themselves, who will hit the road as a full band in a few months.
While many bands’ resurrections are worth little more than a grimace, The Posies’ return is a welcome one. And with the five excellent songs on Nice Cheekbones, Auer and Stringfellow prove that they haven’t lost a step during their brief demise, the reports of which seem to be greatly exaggerated.