[6 August 2014]
The Paul and John are two guys: Paul Myers, a music journalist who has written books on Todd Rundgren and Long John Baldry and is the founder of Toronto-based ‘90s power pop group the Gravelberrys, and John Moremen, who is best known for being the lead guitarist in the Orange Peels (a great band) and a guitar player with Half Japanese. Inner Sunset is their debut album as a duo, and, at its best, it crackles with pure pop perfection. This album is studded with very Beatles-like gems, and when this group is firing on all cylinders, such as the singalong-baiting “When I Lost My Way”, it is killer. There’s no two ways about it, these guys know their way around a good hook. Playing all the instruments themselves, the duo comes off as a more modern day version of the late, lamented Cavedogs – Moremen sounds a little like that band’s Brian Stevens, and the vocal resemblance is astounding. (And believe me, if you’re jonesing for more Cavedoggy goodness, the Paul and John might just offer the next best thing.)
However, the record stumbles a bit when the Paul and John decide to throw in a slower, acoustic jangle of a number. Songs such as “How ‘Bout That” don’t have the same lasting impact, and, in fact, when the song opens up and starts to briefly rock out midway through, it’s just a reminder of what you’re missing from Inner Sunset: more power, more pop. Thankfully, the outfit doesn’t deviate into this territory too often, and the LP is one big celebration of rock and roll. (Sample lyric: “’77 and the punk rock summer / I was just another of the wannabe Strummers.”) I’d say that the Paul and John deftly fill a void in popular music and make something that hasn’t been heard this well in a long, long time. If you like your guitars to jingle, and your songs to be poppy confectionery, do make a date with the Paul and John. You won’t be disappointed that you did.