The Pointed Sticks' one studio album is one of those pleasures that is utterly of its time as well as lasting beyond it — not a bad legacy at all, considering the ups and downs the band went through to finally record it. To be fair, the giddy power pop style the quintet specialized in was fairly crowded and in ways Perfect Youth is less distinct than simply just what was needed. Gord Nichols' keyboards aren't anywhere near as frenetically insane as Barry Andrews' were for XTC, for instance, though they are a fine counterpart to Steve Nieve's work for Elvis Costello. But nothing about Perfect Youth sounds half-assed — credit in particular for ending on what might be its best song, "Part of the Noise" — while there are two strong points to the band that anchor everything down. First there's Nick Jones' vocals, high, snotty, but never totally harsh, a delicious little whine (and this is meant as a compliment!). He has a smooth, easy way around his lines that works wonderfully — check the break saluting "the young Canadians" on the title track or the sweet verses on "American Song," sounding like he's gently cascading down the descending arrangement. Meanwhile, Ken Montgomery aka Dimwit brings plenty of energy and skill from his previous Subhumans gig to never simply be a timekeeper, as can be heard in the subtle but strong fills and shifts on songs like "When She's Alone" and a great cover of the Sonics' "The Witch"; he might not be Rat Scabies but he's a good rival to his fellow local drummer Chuck Biscuits. Getting Bob Rock in to handle one of his earliest productions turned out to be an inspired move, with the deft additions of brass on some songs adding extra punch. [Sudden Death's reissue of the album 25 years on, besides adding appreciative liner notes, includes four bonus tracks — the pre-album "Somebody's Mom" single, a radio remix of "American Song," and compilation track "Angeline."] -AMG
If you like "Perfeect Youth" get it here!