Listening to the Bigger Lovers, it's hard not to be coaxed into worn guitar pop superlatives ("jangle," "power pop," etc.). It's also hard not to get caught up in trainspotting the group's sublime ancestry — the way, for instance, the splashy, expansive "Emmanuelle" seems to draw equally on both Cheap Trick and Move-era Jeff Lynne. Or the way the cascading, chiming guitar figures often call to mind the Soft Boys' Kimberley Rew and the Smiths' Johnny Marr. Or the Robin Zander-meets-Robyn Hitchcock vocals throughout the album. The Bigger Lovers seem to have a bit more going for them than a lot of power pop upstarts, however, and (like Big Star and Cheap Trick before them) the Philadelphia group is able to sublimate their cheeky Anglo-pop influences into something wholly their own. Most importantly, there's a surfeit of sugar-coated, prickly skin-inducing hooks on the aptly named Honey in the Hive. "Bought Your Ghost" is splashy, breathless power pop, while the flippant Brit-psych verses of "Half Richard's" are soon blown aside by the chorus' euphoric guitar crunch and handclaps. "Minivan Blues" is an eerily dead-on approximation of post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys. "Make Your Day" is full of chiming, rolling guitar-work and "ba-ba-ba" harmonies, while "Bought Your Ghost" merits a second mention, if only to reinforce that it's three minutes of power pop perfection packed with melodic guitar bite, a swooning chorus, and stirring lyrics. The Bigger Lovers' approach to the well-travelled power pop landscape is complex enough to set them apart from the pack, yet full of catchy immediacy. -AMG
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The Bigger Lovers - Honey in the Hive - 2002/sbRate this posting: