This has been the year of the reunion, heralding regroupings that can belong to one of three categories: either the long-awaited (Gang of Four, Roxy Music), the unlikely (Pixies) or the obscure (Slint). The Posies don’t really fall into any of those categories, but they have reunited. Seven years doesn’t really constitute the first category, as bands like New Order have gone that long just between records, nor is the reunion unlikely as the pairing of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow is so complementary that they were bound to find each other again, like socks separated into different loads of laundry. The Posies weren’t really obscure either. Sure, maybe not blockbuster sellers, but the dreamy northwestern pop band had, and still has I might add, legions of fans who have been consistently telling Jon and Ken that they should reunite. Every Kind of Light marks that reunion, and in all ways, the Posies are back to form.
Opener “It’s Great to Be Here Again” is easily going to have double meaning for fans of the band. Originally meant as a criticism of America’s conservative / consumer culture, its chorus and title will act as a glorified reemergence.
“Yeah, it’s great to be here
Where the saints all sing along
I hope the party never ends
In fact, the chorus is sarcasm at its finest, as the verses refer to corporate scandals and the corruption of America’s youth by the country’s capitalist leanings.
“Conversations” is the first song that the group nailed down on the album, and not surprisingly, is probably the best on the record. Jon and Ken’s angelic harmonies abound on the first two songs, leaving the listener to bask in both bliss and reverie, a reminder of the wondrous songs on both Dear 23, Amazing Disgrace and Frosting on the Beater, while also reminding that listener that the song is indeed new, and there’s more where that came from. The songs of the Posies always remind me, in strange backwards way, of Weezer. Rivers Cuomo had much to benefit from the pop perfection of the Posies, mimicking the guitar driven pop, but after Pinkerton, lost their way amongst a bit of cheese metal while the originals kept on with their trademark sound, even after they split up, even collaborating, ironically, with a band that inspired them, Big Star.
The band gets melancholy and heartfelt with “Last Crawl.” The narrator sings of finding solace from heartbreak in a bottle summing up the thoughts swimming with the alcohol in the lines:
“Dreams of you die hardest
But dreams of you still go the farthest”
The Posies go back to the political well with “Could He Treat You Better,” turning to a 12-bar blues format with the lyrics of a man mistreating his woman, this time the man is George W. and the woman is America. The allegory works well and is one of the best “protest” songs in a long while. Ken’s voice somehow blends Glenn Frey and Neil Young in a magical way. One wonders because of the style of the song and the sound of the voice whether or not Ken was thinking of Neil Young in writing the song. (Either way, Neil, cover this song!)
Every song on this album has lyrics that are easily quotable (like a line from “Love Comes” as an example: “Sense memory, that’s so passe, is that what passes for vision these days“), and each song is a pop gem, which makes the record traditional Posies, but with new quirks like “Could He Treat You Better” and “It’s Great To Be Here Again,” the songwriting duo of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have shown they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Every Kind of Light is a welcome return for a band that’s difficult to categorize in the reunion bonanza of 2005.