The past couple of years have seen the proud reemergence of various and sundry bands from our collective pasts including Echo and the Bunnymen, Trashcan Sinatras, Big Star and the Posies, with the year previous seeing live reunions of such powerhouses as Pixies and Bauhaus. None of the above albums, much as I might have hoped for it, were chartbusters, instead finding cult success with a smattering of fans. Each comeback was also semi-successful. All of the CDs were well made and had moderate success in the marketplace, but none of the previous reunions were as long awaited or in demand as the now impossible Beatles, Zeppelin or Clash reunions. Let’s face it; no one’s desperately awaiting the triumphant return of Men Without Hats, Milli Vanilli, Sponge, Toadies or Deep Blue Something. Yet three albums in this decade by the Proclaimers proves there’s a market for everything. Enter Super Deluxe.
This is not all to say that the new album by the northwest band is unworthy or unwelcome, merely unexpected. Eight years have passed since Super Deluxe’s second and last album and a lot has changed on the face of music, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. But with the return of the like-minded power pop Posies, SD has a fine chance of making at least a noticeable splash. If there’s one thing you can say about Northwesterners, they are fiercely loyal to their local acts. One other band that pulled a Lazarus this year was Harvey Danger, another example of how Seattle radio and local fans helped out their hometown brethren. With the release of their first album, Famous, it looked as if Super Deluxe were well on their way to the stardom provided by the pop backlash to the grunge explosion. Rave reviews in Rolling Stone in the states as well as Q and Melody Maker overseas went a long way in giving Super Deluxe national exposure, and a transfer from Tim/Kerr records to major label Warner Bros. Yet after two full-length releases, they fell into the oblivion of obscurity in 1997.
So, the question that you might be asking is if Super Deluxe still has the same power pop sheen that they had eight years ago. The answer is yes, but in small doses. Braden Blake’s sugary vocals are still as raspy yet sweet sounding as ever while still maintaining that connection with what people remember of their previous work. The album begins with “Come Down,” a song with a Stone Roses or La’s-like vocal feel and direct from “How Soon Is Now” `wuffle wuffle’ echo guitars. “Knockout,” the song being played currently on local radio stations, is tongue-in-cheek fun about desiring that girl who is not appreciated by her current boyfriend. The band puts their influences on their sleeves when Blake sings that they’re in his van and “listening to the Knack.” “Shoot” is the only other real standout on the album, which is disappointing because everything seems to be falling into place, it’s just not gelling in the way it could. The music is tight and the sound polished, but it’s kind of like reheating macaroni and cheese that’s been saved in a plastic container. It’s still good, edible and recognizable as the original product, but it’s just not as good as when it was fresh.
Super Deluxe released a teaser EP earlier in the year called Lolita which whetted the appetites of those longing for the colorful days of the return of sixties power pop that flooded the airwaves in the mid-nineties. Bands like Jellyfish and the Soup Dragons were the talk of the town until folks got sick of the felt jester hats and glasses with different colored lenses. Had Surrender! been another EP, including the first two tracks and “Shoot,” the package would have been much tighter, but stretching out to eleven tracks merely made everything seem a little flat and flavorless.
The Goo Goo Dolls- Dizzy Up the Girl
Dishwalla- Pet Your Friends
Fastball- All the Pain Money Can Buy