[7 July 2003]
Maybe there’s nothing new you can do. If you’re like me, you’ve stopped counting the times that you’ve had what at first seemed like an unprecedented and unquestionably cool idea, only to eventually discover that not only had it been thought of before, but it had been executed, too. Many times. And the most tragic part of all is that, later, through your older, wiser eyes, you awake to the sad truth that it wasn’t such a terrific idea after all.
There are two ways of dealing with this. You can either fight against the odds, biting and clawing your way through all of your mediocre, hackneyed notions, in hopes that one day, through sheer force of will, you will come up with something that will command the awe of the world. Or you can choose a style that you admire and imitate it over and over again. That’s what Matthew Smith does.
Smith has been using his Detroit-based band, Outrageous Cherry, to create psychedelic pop music in the vein of the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, the Byrds, the Kinks, and the Beach Boys since 1993. Outrageous Cherry’s latest album, Supernatural Equinox, makes one thankful that he devotes so much energy to emulating his heroes.
The album starts off in a tightly focused haze with “Girl You Have Magic Inside You”, a headphone jewel that swirls out of the speakers straight into your cerebral cortex. Next comes the eminently hummable “A Song for Someone Sometimes”, an agreeable facsimile of prototypical sixties Britpop that’s tailored for rolled-down car windows, wind-tousled hair, and sun-drenched scenery speeding by in the periphery.
The album’s first misstep comes with the maraca-driven “Young and Miserable”, which aims for an angsty sexuality that doesn’t jibe with Smith’s songwriting sensibility. Despite the narrow range in which he works, Smith does have his singular strengths, and libidinous sneering is not among them. In fact, the only weak points on Supernatural Equinox occur when Outrageous Cherry eschew poppiness for fetishization of the less compelling aspects of the psychedelic idiom. In such instances (e.g., the tiresome wah-wah guitar dueling of “The Orgone Vortex”, and the murky atmospherics of “Psychic Wheels”) the results are dull, and tend to drag on too long.
Fortunately, the majority of Supernatural Equinox finds Outrageous Cherry doing what it does best: creating moody, prismatic pop music that, quite frankly, lends itself well to chemical relaxation. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into, or if you dig on well-executed retro-pop in any state of mind, you should sample the sometimes moody, frequently entrancing and nearly always appealing songs on Supernatural Equinox. Outrageous Cherry didn’t write the recipe to these nuggets, but listening to them, you can feel the love went into in their preparation.