Thursday, April 5, 2007

Reviews:: The Superfantastics - Pop-Up Book

In the current age of cynical music journalists, and even more cynical bloggers (your happy pals here at the hill excluded!), it must be hard to make an album full of fun pop music, release it to all these bitter folks with keyboards, and hope they aren't too depressed to enjoy it. Or maybe not. As much fun as Matt MacDonald (vocals, guitar) and Stephanie d’Entremont (drums, vocals) of The Superfantastics seem to be having, both on record and in the interviews I've read (such as this latest from The Coast), I don't think they're too worried about it. Which is lucky for us, as their new album, Pop-Up Book, is a fun, likable album from two very likable people.

When I say Pop-Up Book is a fun album, I don't mean to imply it isn't a quality piece of musical craftsmanship. It is. It's just that fun is the word that comes to mind most when I listen to it. Although I believe you're bound by law to use the word "minimal" at some point when describing a band that is a guitar and drums combo, The Superfantasics have a fuller sound than you'd expect on most songs. The album was recorded by Charles Austin and Dave Ewenson at the Echo Chamber in Halifax, so those fine gentleman deserve a portion of the credit for the album's sound, but the bulk of the credit belongs to Matt's solid guitar work and Stephanie's consistent drumming. I love the consistent drumming, ask Ack or Lapaix, they'll tell you.

Another reason I like this very likable album is the diversity they've crammed into these 10 songs. Glitter and Countdown brings to mind some of Sloan's mid-tempo rockers, specifically the ones helmed by Chris Murphy (As a long-winded aside, I often find myself comparing Halifax/Maritime acts to Sloan, and I'm never sure if it's because the bands are directly influenced by them, or it just so happens that both Sloan and whoever I'm reviewing are influenced by the same kind of 60's sounding melodic rock. Does this even matter? No idea).

The nerd-love anthem The Only One I C++ Is U++ is a happy little drums & piano number. I should also mention that I'm a computer programmer who dislikes Dilbert cartoons and vows never to see The Matrix, yet I don't mind this song. Making cheeky lyrics like "you looked me up on ICQ, I haven't logged into that since 2002" work is no easy feat.

The catchy guitar strum, handclaps and sing-along hook of As The Lights Go Down with have you nodding along in a hurry. The Simon and Garfunkel-ish Oh! How You Used To Know Me Well (Back Then) is a fun acoustic and tambourine change of pace. Vantastic (Eastern Canadian Road Trip Blues) has a great name, and opens with handclaps and a group fun-sing along before breaking into a disastrous road-trip rock-out. Back To The Future III has a nifty surf-rock opener and features a flux capacitor reference. Enough said.

If you read that Coast article I mentioned earlier, you'll hear how Matt and Stephanie actually assembled the cute little 3-D pop-up of the band in the liner notes of Pop-Up Book themselves. It doesn't get more DIY than that really, so don't let their hard work go to waste, buy a copy of their album. Besides, even though spring in Halifax is usually a slush-laced crapfest, warm weather is coming here soon, and has already arrived in many places, so everyone will need some music to help greet the sunshine. The Superfantastics are a, ahem, fantastic start.

mp3:: Tonight Tonite

mp3:: Vantastic (Eastern Canadian Roadtrip Blues)

Posted at 2:55 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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