Various Artists: Planet of the Popboomerang: A Global Pop Compilation
This shimmering Australian label knows what makes glorious pop, er, glorious. The home to such acts as the Richies and the Windmills, this label issued Shake Yer Popboomerang a couple of years ago to showcase just what Down Under had to offer. Now, with the musical telescopes searching outside of their homeland, Popboomerang has returned with this collection of 25 songs from home and abroad. While there are few that people outside of critics may have heard of, it doesn't mean that the album is unbelievably infectious and inviting. And unlike compilations that are basically an hour's worth of contemporary radio, all of the songs here are exclusive to the record.
The Lolas open the record up with a sweet pop song entitled "Don't Change a Thing", which brings early Kinks, early Petty, or Sloan circa Twice Removed to mind immediately. It's the type of song to get a couple of limbs moving or having you air drumming alone in your office cubicle. A great tune to get things going that's for sure! "She (Still) Doesn't Know It's Wrong" from Kelly's Heels is '60s-era Britpop that falls in line with Herman's Hermits or the Hollies. Like most of the songs here, it's a two to three-minute gem. "Santa Come in Stripes" is from Australia's the Finkers and doesn't really do much for the listener, somewhat gliding along without dropping the ball. The sleigh bells tend to drag on too long though.
Next up is Finland, where "Bootycall" has the same lovable pop rock flavor courtesy of Sugarrush. The bass line sets the song in motion and the jangle keeps things flowing effortlessly. But, like most of these songs, savor each section because it ends quickly. What is possibly the first iffy tune is Israel's "Shy Nobleman (Stevie Winwood)", a cute little ditty that has a stop and start nature that creates next to no momentum. An acoustic version of "Motel California" from Champale takes things down a notch but still has that Matthew Sweet/Thorns sound oozing through it. Vocoder, a band from New Zealand, takes things to a near rave-up pace with the Costello and the Attractions-sounding "The Turnaround". Brimming with keys and frantic guitar riffs, it's a definite highlight, which is saying a lot thus far.
A lot of these songs fall in the same category sound-wise, so it should be generally black and white whether the album takes you in or not. If it does, however, it is fantastic thus far. Continuing with the United Nations approach of rock albums, France's Sweet Apple Pie perform a pretty chick-led "She Whistles in the Tube". The first true clunker though is a slower campfire tune by Florapop called "Come to Me". "Now is the time for letting go / To plant the seed and let it grow", the opening couplet says, kicking my gag reflex into high gear. Fortunately "Hollywood is Babyfood", performed by Spain's Bondage, is a great orchestrated tune that is a third Oasis, a third the Verve, and a third Ocean Colour Scene. Japan's Movin' Jelly do "Rock 'n' Roll Girl High School" with more keyboards and tight pop melodies. The sleeper pick of the record is a brilliant moody alt. rocker from Go You Huskies called "S.A.W.".
Not to short change the other artists on this record, but the second half of the record seems just as qualitative as the first side. Notable is the Crowded House-ish "Rolling Ball" by Michael Carpenter. The gritty garage pop sound emanating from the Richies on "Fanclubesque" is also outstanding. Things start to loosen up a bit, especially on the rambling country rock of "Punk Girl" from Finland's Ben's Diapers. After a terribly sweet bubble gum pop tune from one of the best in the business (Jeremy's "This is War!"), the album ends with a cover of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It" from Japan's Salt Water Taffy. This is a terribly addictive record!