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The Posies - Every Kind of Light

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Artist: The Posies

Album: Every Kind of Light

Label: Ryko

Review date: Jul. 27, 2005

The machinations of the David Geffen complex never did much for the Posies, the melancholy Hollies of Seattle. Yeah, “Golden Blunders” (off the slick, melodic Dear 23) got butchered by Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. And yeah, “Will You Ever Ease Your Mind?” (off the dour, prickly Amazing Disgrace) scored the ending credits for one episode of Daria. But the band was always destined to be a mostly-overlooked luxury item for the cult of witty pop, and since 1998’s expansive Success, they’ve consciously opted for that.

The two chief songwriters toured several times filling holes in Big Star and regularly turn out scattershot solo albums. Admittedly, the collective batting average declines when they stray from the tent: Ken Stringfellow is prone to lightweight Eltonisms, and well-informed rock classicist Jon Auer loses his way a bit without Stringfellow’s finger-wagging humanism as an emotional anchor. As inconsistent as it is, Every Kind of Light, the first full-band Posies record of the century, curbs the pair’s excesses enough to reward repeat plays. But if you ain’t got time to listen to a Posies record repeatedly, never mind.

Still there? Aces.

Like N.W.A.’s Efil4zaggin and MC Ren’s Shock Of The Hour, Every Kind Of Light splits in two distinct halves. The first half revives the straight-ahead Chiltonian hooks and tender misgivings of the ole days. “All In A Day’s Work” provides a pithy tutorial for touring musicians, focusing on the boozy after-parties and suggesting that, in this “certain arrangement,” one might find oneself “blurring the line / between us and a good time.” As usual, an emotional intelligence rings through these words when they’re set to music, and it holds on the ominous “I Guess You’re Right,” a barbed memo to a nebulous lover / critic.

The latter half lets Auer and Stringfellow indulge themselves - “I Finally Found a Jungle I Like!” is one of Auer’s party-time toss-offs, and “That Won’t Fly” is one of Stringfellow’s piano ballads.

For the first time, the Posies get explicitly political. Check the West Coast country-rocker “Sweethearts Of Rodeo Drive” (“Humvees that drive our young boys to battle / You’ve got shiny wheels”) as it belittles the Golden State in the language of the Byrds. Now stationed in France, Stringfellow flicks a Bic in mourning for pre-9/11 America on “That Won’t Fly” (“It’s got me more than just down / We used to disagree so well / But that’s long gone”). Not every experiment fires at first, but The Posies know what they’re doing, and even the immediately ridiculous blue-eyed blues of “Could He Treat You Better” (which casts George W. Bush as America’s seedy boyfriend) comes into its own after a few spins.

So, to take another ironic swing at this point, this is the sort of guitar pop that requires an investment. Old fans should eventually be delighted with it. Curious neophytes are encouraged to dig up Success or DGC’s surprisingly generous best-of, both of which can be fetched for under eight bones used.

By Emerson Dameron

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