Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Goldbergs -- Under The Radar (2008)

The Goldbergs -- Under The Radar (Kool Kat)

Andy Goldberg is back with more sunshiney power pop. I mean that literally. When he sings “come outside and feel the sun/it’ll take you away” he captures the wonderfulness of a summer day. “Feel the Sun” is ridiculously catchy, with its simple melody and a swell arrangement with just enough backing vocals, and the added bonus of Goldberg’s ace lead guitar playing.

Even on his slower tracks, Goldberg can’t help but be bubbly. He comes from that corner of Power Pop Land that has spawned artists like Marshall Crenshaw, Dwight Twilley and The Lackloves. This means that there’s a bit of power while the pop spills over everywhere, with reference points from The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly and scads of ‘60s acts.

And a contemporary act, from time to time. The energetic “I’m a Hero (Waiting to Happen)” hits me a little bit like some of Richard X. Heyman’s work. I think it’s something about the spirited playing and the way the chorus hits so hard. The instrumental break with its innocent and endearing guitar solo with sweet backing vocal harmonies is just so darned nice.

The nicest cut of all is the finale, “A Hand to Hold”. It’s not the best song, which is “Feel the Sun”. But “Hand” allows Andy to show off his ukelele skills and it’s simply charming and has one line that I just love: “seems I just can’t escape without you.” Aw shucks. The only possible flaw is that he didn’t croon this ditty through a megaphone.

But let me harp on that word ‘innocent’ one more time. The Goldbergs’ brand of pop really is a throwback to a time of penny loafers and letterman’s sweaters, in the best possible way. No wonder it’s under the radar.

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