Power pop is the name of the game with San Francisco’s Oranger, a name which forces one to ask the question, `Oranger than what?’ Guitar driven West Coast harmonies and coastal sunshine pepper the new album New Comes and Goes, an oddly fitting name as the `new’ tag for Oranger contradicts itself in many ways. For one, the pop they produce is reminiscent of acts both older and more recent, while at the same time remaining on the forefront of the genre. Secondly, many will consider this the band’s debut, though they have been together for eight years, and have 3 songs on compilations in 2005 alone. The combinations of their influences and their lack of naïveté of the record industry make the band keenly aware that the novelty will someday wear off as New Comes and Goes.
“Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs” kicks off the album like Franz Ferdinand, OK Go, and other `fun’ angular rockers currently in the spotlight. The title track comes off like Weezer in their prime. “Sukiyaki” and “RadioWave” are so sunny that they can rival the supreme kings of power pop right now, the New Pornographers. It’s when the album gets to “Outtatouch” that a left turn comes. Rather than continue in the vein they had been mining so effectively, vocalist Mike Drake starts to take on a spoken word singing style with a musical backdrop that could have been lifted from David Bowie’s “Bombers.”
“Whacha Holden,” a possible reference to The Catcher in the Rye, features Drake doing a near dead on Lou Barlow in the verses. “Crones” slows things down some, with a style not unlike a band that they have just started touring with, the legendary Posies. “Target You By Feel” has the quick guitar flicks inherent in most Cars songs, then leads into closer “Come Back Tomorrow,” a song with a driving beat, simple yet memorable lyrics and Cheap Trick-like flourishes.
Oranger’s songs can often be picked apart to their essential building blocks to see from whence they came, but it’s what they do with those foundations that are more important. In Oranger’s hands, power pop has found a new home, warm and nurturing, able to invade the ear with little resistance while leaving with much, much more. The San Francisco band may not be the be-all, end-all of the genre, but they are worthy torchbearers.