Caught In The Darkness [Sugarbush Records (LP)/Easter Records (CD/DL)]
This one re-emerged from the endless pile of mess that my life became after moving back to England from Oz. At first I thought that it was too late to review as it came out twelve months ago, but then this Internety Thing timely revealed that the bastion of quality power-pop and psych, Sugarbush Records, has done a limited run of vinyl pressings, and released it in December. Talk about breathing new life into a much deserved record.
So without any more ado, let me sing the praises of this Milwaukee troupe on their fourth LP. My review of previous album Things That Shine & Glow was gushing. “Why aren’t these guys megastars?”, I pondered - and I’m still am asking the same question. They are America’s Pugwash, really: mixing power-pop pace and melody to dreamier ideas on the slower numbers. They come out the gate with the title track and it’s ‘65 Beatles joy all around. ‘Thursday Girl’ marries the sonic adventures of The Electric Prunes and Jeff Lynne to create Guitar Pop Nirvana. The quality never really dips for the rest of the album, and singling out certain tracks seems a little unfair. But I will say that if you played ‘All The Way’ to anyone and claimed it was the new Foxygen single they wouldn’t suspect anything was up. ‘She Has It All’ swings with the confident verve of prime-era Prisoners [does praise come much higher than that?], and comes with a lovely paisley-centric Wurlitzer-sounding middle-eight that captivates on every playback. One final mention: for the galloping ‘I’ll Stand In Line’, which has that special, warm, yearning, humble and vulnerable feeling that very few bands that are not called The Pale Fountains or Love could ever conjure.
I’m not alone in praising 'the Trolley' [as probably no one is calling them]. It seems that every decent blog feels the same way about this one, with top comments appearing on many throughout 2016 (where? On Shepherd Express, Milwaukee Record, Broken Hearted Toy, Powerpopaholic, Power Pop Revival, Pop Geek Heaven, The Strange Bew, Goldmine, The Big Takeover, Sweet Sweet Music, Sound Renaissance, I Don't Hear a Single, Pop Junkie, and Pop That Goes Crunch!!!). No one who has this record has ever regretted the decision. And for Zombies, ELO, and general harmony-pop fans, this album is ESSENTIAL.
Caught In The Darkness is out now on orange vinyl via Sugarbush or CD and DL
BY PHIL ISTINE
A blog to pontificate upon music both new and old: mostly reviews, some news, interviews, thought pieces, and exclusive content.