Music

Paul Collins: King of Power Pop!

Power pop lifer Collins more than backs up his album's boastful title on this most welcome -- and deserving -- victory lap.


Paul Collins

King of Power Pop

Label: Alive
US Release Date: 2010-08-24
UK Release Date: Import
Label website
Amazon
iTunes

I think we can all agree that, at the risk of infuriating Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster's despotic, psychotic Power Pop Pop-Pop, no one has more right to lay claim to the title of King of Power Pop than Paul Collins: even if his output has slowed in the 21st century, over a 30-year career wit the Nerves, the Breakaways, and Paul Collins' Beat, Collins has consistently delivered the Rickenbacker jangle and harmonies, as well as songs about girls, "the kids", and music itself, that power pop aficionados have demanded since the first issue of Bomp!, if not the Who's "The Kids Are Alright".

Back stateside after decamping to Spain for 2005's contemplative Flying High, and teaming up with down 'n' dirty garage guru Jim Diamond, King of Power Pop! finds Collins so desirous to make up for lost time that he practically runs out the door, all a-jangle and pleasantly raspy, on the opening blast of "C'mon Let's Go!". He tears through the barroom stomp of "Do You Wanna Love Me?" and the self-explanatory "Doin' It for the Ladies" and "Don't Blame Your Troubles on Me", which sounds like a long-lost Nerves track. In fact, the album barrels along for its entire 31-minute runtime, only pausing long enough for Collins to reconnect with his old Nerves-mate Peter Case on the folky "Many Roads to Follow".

As if further convincing was required, side B cements Collins's claim to royalty. His urgent cover of the Box Tops' "The Letter" is a fine tribute to another man fit to wear the power pop crown, Alex Chilton. "Off the Hook" is a fun kiss-off to an ex -- "I'm not gonna die if you're not by my side" -- and it sure beats the woe-is-me vibe that permeates too many power pop break-up songs. Meanwhile, the title track combines a brief history of the Nerves, an overview of the dire state of pre-punk '70s radio, and shout-outs to the Ramones and the Easybeats... all in 2:27. The facility with which Collins and crew are working is nothing short of amazing. And the rave-up "This Is America" celebrates the best (Chuck Berry) and excoriates the worst (oversize McDonald's sodas) of the states, and even overcomes an unfortunate lyrical similarity to "We Didn't Start the Fire" ("Uncle Sam, Mary Ann, Chuck E. Cheese, pretty please") courtesy of a raucous, minute-long coda that threatens to topple, but just keeps building to greater heights.

To Collins's credit, King of Power Pop! never feels like it's going through the motions -- and at this stage in his career, Collins, preaching almost exclusively to hardcore power pop fans who (and I'm only half-joking) assess albums with checklists of genre conventions and expectations, could get away with a lazy move and still be lauded. As it is, he more than backs up his album's boastful title on this most welcome -- and deserving -- victory lap.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.