Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brought to you by the letter P - The Perms!

The Perms - Keeps You Up When You're Down (Hugtight Records/Not Lame Recordings/C4 Records)

Winnipeg has, over the years, produced more than its fair share of great bands with names beginning with P - The Pumps, Propaghandi, Paperbacks, Paper Moon. Add another contender with The Perms, perhaps the only one in the list to properly embrace power pop (them P's just keep on comin', don't they?). Even when powerchords bleed into hard rock territory (as in the sublime Give Me All Your Lovin'), full harmonies, strong melodies and simple, finely-crafted popcraft shines through like winter sun through a morning frost. The boys have even kept the tunes to powerpop lengths - the shortest runs 2 minutes 31 seconds, and the only epic(!) doesn't make it to 4 minutes.

Rarely has an album title reflected an artistic/entertainment sensibility better; the Perms have long been a group with a knack for sounding positive without verging on sappy stuff. The Mess includes lyrical stabs at unfortunate behaviour, yet the chorus is somehow uplifting. Maybe it's the deft production, with subtle back-ups from Ash Koley adding that extra joy. But that production (by Phil Deschambault and the band) and the stellar mixing (courtesy of Scott Stewart) shoves this disc way out of that trendy garageland and into the-Perms-should-be-owning-the-airwaves-land. The last record flirted with horns, this one trades 'em for extra guitar and vocal tracks - and the Smith brothers have never sounded so mellifluous. If you like big choruses that ain't overblown, straightforward lyrics, and some influences you can't quite pin down (The Bears? Scruffy the Cat? A dash of Zeppelin? Don Dixon? Nahhhhh....), The Perms should be your new pals. Careful, though, the songs are more infectious than swine flu.

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