Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Innocents - Pop Factory - 2006


The Innocents evolved from an Australian power pop band called Beathoven, which scored a few hits down under back in the 1970s; while the Innocents had talent to spare, they didn't have the same luck as their earlier incarnation, and significantly a retrospective collection of their 1980s recordings was called No Hit Wonders from Down Under. However, despite wives, kids, and day jobs, the Innocents never completely gave up the ghost, and 2006's Pop Factory shows they haven't lost a bit of their touch over the years. Pop Factory is a glorious collection of sun-dappled melodies, superb harmonies, chiming guitars, and songs that would have done the Hollies or Badfinger proud once upon a time. Guitarists David Minchin, Rob Smith, and Charles Touber and bassist Greg Cracknell all sing and write the tunes, and each delivers the goods here, from the small-time musician's lament "Here Comes the Loser" to the glorious upbeat romance of "Your Precious Touch," and their production smarts are just as keen as their musicianship. While sunny pop is the order of the day (for the most part), they know how to crank up the tempo when the tune demands it, and the rock guitar figures on "While I Sleep" suggest they remember what it was like to open for AC/DC all those years ago. Pop Factory doesn't sound like the work of a handful of week-enders trying to relive their brief moment of pop stardom, but instead stands as a mature and vital work from a band that is as talented and committed as anyone making classic-style pop today. Those wishing that either Alex Chilton or Eric Carmen would come to their senses and make great records again will find new heroes after giving the Innocents a listen. -AMG

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