The High School Reunion
Wow, power pop rises from the dead! Lately I’ve been missing something in my life, and it’s this sort of bouncy, slightly over-produced music about the positive side of love. The Travoltas put on a pseudo high school look for this album, and while they seem about as old as the typical highschooler in a teen sex comedy, they crank out a solid wall of sound. Start with an ever so slightly fuzzed out guitar played by Mickey Randall, add the unlikely Skokie Venom driving an ’80s sounding synth and dropping in Devo-esque beeps and boops when needed. Bracket them with the band’s founders, vocalist Perry Leenhouts and bass player Eddie Velhulst, and you have a tight Dutch band with a power pop sound that could be from anywhere in North America. Opening cut “High School Reunion” blazes over the entire world of failed high school aspirations. Sure, none of us ended up where we wanted to be, and there are enough addictions, pregnancies and debts in every class to satisfy the gossip mongers, but none of it sounds all that bad when the Travoltas sing about it.
The potential hit here is “(All We Really Want is) Rock And Roll.” It’s got a great guitar riff, and a movie soundtrack feel to it — not one of those lame soundtracks, but the kind where you come back and buy a second movie ticket just to hear the music. The lyrics are bit light-weight, something about “All we want is rock and roll,” but the harmonies riding high over a throbbing, driving guitar line are all you need to rock out. Later in the disc, we get a very unusual treat: the Travoltas cover Peter Schilling’s “Ground Control to Major Tom,” in a dialect of German that sounds a bit more Bavarian than Schilling’s original. Frankly, this is one of the most impressive pop-influenced albums to cross my turn-table in months, and I highly recommend it.