It’s been over five years since the last Model Rockets album, and I can’t say it’s been worth the wait — that’s five fucking years they nor us will ever get back.
Which is not to say this is not a great record — there’s barely a tune I’d skip over by the 27th play — but there should have been more in all that time. And what’s with everyone’s love of mystery these days, again there are no listing of band members or songwriting credits.
Comparing the pictures in the booklet to those of the previous album it seems like it is all the same people, but who knows. They do bother to list the Gruesome Twosome, Kurt Bloch and Scott McCaughey, as producers, probably as recompense in place of greenbacks.
As to the music, the intervening years has brought a bit more refinement: sweeter vocals, soaring & more intricate harmonies, less riffing/more leads with a jangle propensity, and the occasional rootsy tang via a bit of slide, banjo and/or mandolin. And throughout are sprinkled little quotes/signposts, which I like to think is just for those of without a life.
For instance the first number, The Dress Up Girls, opens with a descending series of bass notes right out of the Move’s I Can Hear The Grass Grow. That figure recurs throughout the tune, and with the chimes, an easy going, delectable melody and those “rum-tum-tum-tum”s that won’t get out of your head… You can pull me out of the oven, I’m perfectly basted and done.
Poor Little Lamb keys on a riff from somewhere in the Choochootrain/Velvet Crush and/or Let’s Active songbook; Candy Aquamarine ends on a brief quote from the 2nd iteration in the chorus, and title, of Rock ‘N Roll Girl [the Beat (Paul Collins)], though pluralized; and Nanny’s Caddy namechecks Good Vibrations while dipping into some Beach Boy’s style backing vocals.
But things like that are just the cherries on the top of a plethora of succulent morsels. Down one aisle you’ll find May Is October with its pathos dripping intro that breaks into jaunty, Music Hall styled verses and easy rolling choruses. Down another is the Tex-Mex-tinged lament Hand Me Down To Sleep.
In aisle 8 you’ll find the most rocking item here, Honeymoon Home, stuffed with chugging and jangling guitars, four on the floor, slurring, Jaggeresque bridge vocal, and except for the under mixed handclaps the Croatian judge would have given it a 10.
[Released by Not Lame 2002]