18. The Posies - Dear 23 (Geffen Records)
One of the Northwest's best pop bands makes their major label debut with their second LP. Their first effort, on the Popllama label, bounced around the Seattle area on tape for quite awhile before getting issued on vinyl. It was (and is) a great slice of quirky, jangly (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know) pop.
Originally formed as a 2-piece band, the playing on the first LP was nice and ragged (especially the drumming), which complemented the 2-part harmony vocals, and gave the music a great homegrown feeling. The new LP sees the Posies expanded to a four piece, with a much fuller sound. The songs tread a similar area to the first LP, and the vocals have the same great sound as the debut, but with fuller backing harmonies.
In some ways, approaching this LP reminds me of approaching the second LP by the Proclaimers. On the Proclaimers' debut they had sung their 2-part harmonies to the accompaniment of a single acoustic guitar, on the followup they had electrified and added a band. It took a little while to get used to the familiar elements poking their way out of the fuller sound.
And so it is with this Posies record. The elements that originally attracted me to the band (songwriting, vocals, melodies) are all there, but they don't present themselves the same way as on the debut. The drumming is more forceful (and timely), the guitars shift from acoustic to electric and back. The bass line is full and forms more of a rhythm section with the drums. The songs are a bit more stretched out too, with some nice neo-pop-psych guitar solos and instrumental passages.
In the end I'm really glad to see the Posies expanding and realizing new versions of their sound. Kenneth Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer have a unique way with melodies, lyrics and especially vocals, and whatever context they choose to play them in, it's always (well, so far anyway) an interesting result.
Repeated listenings to this disc quickly has really ingrained it's songs and pushes it to my pick-hit list for the pop crowd.