The Columbus, Ohio band Earwig probably get a lot lame-ass comparisons to the punk-pop stuff from a decade ago. That their sound compares favorably to that of underrated bands like The Marvelous 3 is something worth mentioning. However, lumping what Earwig's doing on their new album, the infectious Pause for the Jets, to what so many AOR bands did in the waning years of the (first) Clinton presidency is to do this band a disservice. Like Butch Walker's outfit, Earwig have taken a form and improved upon it even as others have sought out easier paths to rock success.
Rather, this band demands some higher praise than that. And if I told you that within seconds of opener "Wisdom Teeth" kicking off that I immediately recalled the fine power-pop of the best Todd Rundgren-produced moments on the early albums from The Pursuit of Happiness, would you appreciate that reference as the highest sort of praise? Earwig make smart, bracing rock of the sort that almost no one is making anymore. The last smart -- as in smart and not smart-ass -- power pop band I can think of was probably Fountains of Wayne and Earwig, at least on stuff like "Lovers Chords", rock a whole lot harder than that group did. England's Silver Sun would be another worthy reference point, especially when discussing punchy-yet-lyrical numbers like "I Don't Want To Go" or "Silverheels". Elsewhere, Earwig echo Foo Fighters on the blistering "Holy Ghost Letter" before launching into the superb "Wasted on You" featuring vocals from Lydia Loveless. If "All My Sins Are Blotted Out" goes on a tiny bit too long that minor misstep is cancelled by the melodic "Shine" which sounds better than anything you're going to hear on the radio these days and a good deal catchier too.
Pause for the Jets is sure to please fans of the power pop genre and anyone who's spent time with Sloan releases, or that 1997 comeback album from Cheap Trick, or Ash singles is going to probably love this as much as I did. Sharp and bright without being too clever for its own good, the tunes on Pause for the Jets are all uniformly invigorating. Dig it folks!
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