Every Kind of Light
Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow may not have been able to revive Big Star on last year’s hit and miss “reunion” album, In Space, but from the sounds of Every Kind of Light, their off-again-on-again day job band may be a different story. And if The Posies sound like a new band here, it’s because they are. Auer and Stringfellow are joined by newcomers Matt Harris (Oranger) on bass and Darren Minwalla (Preston School of Industry) on drums. The result is a well-arranged, collaborative effort that showcases not only Auer and Stringfellow’s trademark harmonies but a number of new wrinkles, too.
Cool overlapping vocals highlight opener “It’s Great to Be Here Again,” a choogling, organ-flavored statement of purpose. It’s not, however, a song about how The Posies feel to be back in the saddle. Instead the track is one of two here (the other being set closer “Sweethearts of Rodeo Drive,” with its shout-outs to celebrity Hummer drivers) about rampant consumerism and the corporate culture in America. “Conversations,” which follows, has quickly become one of my all-time favorite Posies songs. Achingly beautiful verses alternate with a repetitive chorus that will stick in your head for days. Give this one a shot and it will really sneak up on you.
Although they allegedly called it quits in 1999, The Posies have continued to tour occasionally and can always be counted on to bring the ear-splitting rock live. “All In A Day’s Work,” which evokes life on the road, is a pounding cruncher that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on 1993’s grunge-era Frosting On the Beater. “There’s only so many chords that haven’t been played yet,” Auer sings. “And the check’s in the mail, but we haven’t been paid yet.” The Stringfellow-fronted “I Guess You’re Right” is another heavy number with interesting guitar effects and an inventive vocal arrangement. And “I Finally Found A Jungle I Like!” is a party anthem par excellence.
More mellow but no less intriguing is “Anything and Everything,” with a lighter-than-air pillow of harmonies like something off a 10CC record. Auer sings about drowning heartbreak in alcohol on the laid-back “Last Crawl.” And “Love Comes,” which could be a hit single in another universe, is pure pop confection with sweet harmonies, a nagging guitar and some terrific piano work.
The record’s only misstep is Stringfellow’s “Could He Treat You Better,” a falsetto, faux-blues number (and cleverly disguised slam of President Bush) that slows the momentum. Nice to hear The Posies try something new, but this one just doesn’t work musically.
Still The Posies mostly rise to the occasion on Every Kind of Light, with a new band, a new sound and an infusion of new creativity. Here’s to hoping they hang around this jungle for as long as they like.