It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about a supergroup.
On paper, the idea of cherry-picking random players from different bands to create something new and fresh has always been intriguing-not unlike picking one from list A and 2 from list B at your favorite Chinese eatery.
In practice, however, to say that results may vary is an understatement. For every Raconteurs, Golden Smog, or even Crosby, Stills & Nash to wow you, there’s a Chequered Past, Asia, or Little Village to utterly underwhelm you (and I really, truly wanted to love Little Village).
Still, taking the backbeat from one of the most legendary power pop bands of all time (Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos), the flashy guitarist of one of the 90s biggest alt-rock bands (Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha) and quite possibly the most underrated pure pop songwriter of our generation (Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger) got my attention mighty quickly.
Adding the youngest brother of the bubblegum family act who introduced the word “MMMBop”into the American pop culture lexicon (Hanson’s Taylor Hanson) lent an intriguing twist to the project.
Snicker all you want, but the Brothers Hanson-at their heart-were a power pop band, who even collaborated with genre giant Matthew Sweet before breaking up.
That aside, Taylor-emboldened by Carlos’ presence-channels his inner Robin Zander with effortless ease on Tinted Windows’ irresistible self-titled debut, making this the album of the summer in an alternate reality 2009 where smart, hooky, guitar-driven pop reigns supreme.
Schlesinger’s songwriting remains as crisp as ever. This time, however, he trades the uber-brainy approach he brings to the Fountains’ table in for a more stripped down M.O., delivering deceptively simple gems that still shine smartly.
Like any power pop worth its weight in soaring harmonies, these songs are earworms of the most delightful kind.
Some, like “Doncha Wanna” (can we pass a law to require every person with a pulse and a driver’s license to blare this at every red light?) and “Kind Of A Girl” hit you immediately like the adrenaline rush of a first kiss with the girl or guy you never dreamed would kiss you.
Others are set to time deploy inside your head when you least expect it and keep you humming long after summer’s gone. Either way, the choicest moments of Tinted Windows can make you feel sixteen again.
Entertainment Weekly’s review of Tinted Windows boldly declares “If you don’t love this, your tie’s too wide.” I’ll see that and raise with a “If you don’t love this, you are”-to reference a favorite Jon Stewart Daily Show bit-”clearly not a fan of joy.”
Tinted Windows by Tinted Windows was released on April 21 on S-Curve.
Kind of a background check fail, huh?