There are now two answers to the question, ‘what power pop band features three members who all take a turn singing?’ The first is Teenage Fanclub, but they are now joined by Jersey’s own True Love. Despite the emo-like moniker, True Love pull off various styles of pop goodness, from California summery nostalgia to Elvis Costello raucousness, then on to early punk and glam metal. True Love can do it all, and that might just be their downfall. Some might call this record inconsistent, spotty, and all over the place. I call it rock and roll.
Bassist Keith Hartel, drummer Ray Kubian, and guitarist Tom Beaujour all had bands previous to True Love. Those didn’t work out, and tired of the system, these three musicians wanted to just have some fun playing the kind of music they wanted to play. Thus, True Love was born. Since their formation, they have released two albums, Wings being the third, played with Richard Lloyd (Television, Matthew Sweet) on their second album, I Was Accident, and Tom engineered Nada Surf’s latest album The Weight is a Gift. I suppose that shows what you can accomplish by bucking the system.
Wings is a very listener-friendly pop album. There’s something for everyone on it, from the Afghan Whigs-meets-state-homeboys-Fountains of Wayne opener “Worse Ways than This,” to the Weezeresque pop melodies of “The Crime,” from the Joey Ramone-meets-Axl Rose vocal style of “How Does it Feel?” to the ’70s Cheap Trick arena style of “Old Buildings” (one of the best tracks on the CD, by the way). Each vocalist lends his style to each song exquisitely, although one does do a little bit too much of an impression on the track “Forever and After” which is a spot-on Elvis Costello. I did a double take, seriously, which is kind of stupid considering I couldn’t see the singer. Duh. “Sweet Racket” is another one of the standouts, with sweetly sung verses ellipsed by awesome screaming choruses.
Just as Wings’ song “Band on the Run” is disjointed and eclectic in and of itself, so is the music on Wings, True Love’s third long player. It’s not groundbreaking, weird or fresh, but it’s an awfully good pop record by people who know what they’re doing. This album will probably fly under many people’s radar and it’s a shame. This is proof that there’s more to New Jersey than Bruce and Bon Jovi.