Being a devoted Guided By Voices fan and follower, I was excited to receive the latest disc from New York’s Anthemic Pop Wonder. The band’s frontman (and sole musician for much of the album), David Murrow, is known simply as Dfactor in liner notes and on the tight-knit Internet listserv devoted to his aforementioned heroes. While GBV has pumped up its sound in the last three years or so, Anthemic Pop Wonder hones in on the catchy lo-fi nuggets that littered GBV albums and EPs in the early and mid-‘90s. Murrow wears his influences on his sleeve, and the cover of GBV’s own Teenage FBI confirms his love for the work of Robert Pollard.
To say the album is a virtual rip-off, however, is to ignore Murrow’s own individual talents. He obviously knows how to construct a pop song, and even if he has borrowed here and there from Pollard, his work stands on its own. The closing track, “Light Up The Whippets,” has a smarmy lounge feel to it, and is a fine wrap-up to the 14-track set. And unlike Pollard, who has frustrated listeners by leaving brilliant fragments unfinished in the past, Murrow reaches to get as much as he can out of each song. “20-0-0” is a great, fully realized track that I already can’t get out of my head. The online press release for the record contends that the song “kicks much booty,” and I must agree. Murrow has a lot of Replacements in him, and perhaps a bit of Elvis Costello as well.
Like fellow GBV-lover Graham Smith of Kleenex Girl Wonder, Murrow plays all instruments (except drums on a few tracks) on Wild Thrill-Hungry Girls…. Smith’s “Wonder” has built a reputation on sounding a lot like GBV while managing to carve its own niche in the lo-fi genre. Murrow’s “Wonder” is doing the same here. I haven’t heard APW’s prior releases, but if this is any indication, I’ll be seeking them out soon.
This stuff isn’t for everyone, though. Yes, I assure you he knows that it sounds like someone forgot to turn up the low end. Some people are put off by music that isn’t recorded in a big studio with a lot of gloss. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s well worth getting over the notion that a compact disc shouldn’t sound like an old, scuffed slab of vinyl every once in a while. The liner notes even instruct the listener that “if you’re playing this CD on your turntable, Side 2 starts with ‘Call of the Enchanted’.” Let’s just say my needle’s already worn out.