Monday, September 22, 2008

Grand Atlantic - This Is Grand Atlantic - 2007

"This Is Grand Atlantic" is exactly the sort of album that makes power pop a frustrating genre to write reviews of. The Brisbane quartet led by singer/songwriter Phil Usher has an undeniable knack for mimicry that makes their songs quite appealing on the surface but frustratingly hollow upon more careful listening. At first, a song like "Chaos Theory" sounds an absolute corker, but on a second pass, one notes that it's basically a new set of lyrics and a slightly different melody grafted onto the rhythm track to the Beatles' "Rain." Similarly, interest in the impressively overdramatic power ballad "Wonderful Tragedy" wanes as soon as the listener recalls just where he's heard that vocal melody on the verses before (answer: the oft-covered old Leon Russell tune "Superstar") and who it is the arrangement sounds so much like (answer: Oasis; in fact, this is usually the answer throughout the album). The thing is, Usher and crew are really good at this kind of respectful genre thievery, and it makes This Is Grand Atlantic an enjoyable listen for the first half-dozen spins, but just as a standup impressionist's act palls quickly, eventually it's just more satisfying to listen to the bands Grand Atlantic does such a good job of sounding like. Just a hint more personality or invention would go a long, long way toward making This Is Grand Atlantic a longer-lasting gem. -AMG

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