Ahh…youthful exuberance where have you gone? I miss the days when I went to a concert and my main objective was pushing to the front of the stage, only to ricochet off of other kids just as excited as I was to bounce around like an eight year old hopped up on massive amounts of caffeine. But alas, I am satisfied to observe these days from the back with a whiskey in my hand, and a bit of envy, for if I try to bounce around I am just going to pull muscles. Anyway, I am going somewhere with this moment of reverie. At least I think.
California based GRMLN appears to be the work of a young man named Yoodoo Park. I have no idea if that is his real name, nor do I necessarily care, but what I do care about is Park has made an album of indie power pop goodness. The ten track “Empire” doesn’t last long, most songs clock in at under three minutes, but Park manages to pack in a bunch of pep in those few minutes, ala fellow teeny poppers Los Campesinos.
The album gets your attention right away with the well crafted ‘Teenage Rhythm’ that implores us to “…get out, get out, get out of my head”, which is funny, because I’m having a hard time getting this song out of mine. Second track ‘Blue Lagoon’ is balls to the wall power pop that wouldn’t be out of place on an earlier Strokes album done without the boozy vocals. There is a California clean to the vocals and arrangements that people can both appreciate and follow along easily with. Fifth track ‘Do You Know How It Feels’ takes me back to 90’s rockers Dig, which is a good thing, and is one of my favorites on the album.
Park doesn’t stray from his formula too often on “Empire” which is both a strength and a weakness. ‘Cheer Up’ is probably the track that differs the most, straying from the 90’s power pop direction, veering into 1950’s doo-wop territory. It works nicely, but one of the downfalls of the album is that these moments are too few and far between. Lyrically, the album is mostly about relationships, and fails to provoke much, if any, real thought about the world we live in. So if you are looking for that, it is just not there.
Park’s strength may not lie in variety or thought provoking lyrics, but not all music has to confound or push the envelope. However, Park does one hell of a job of making eminently listenable music. I find myself having no trouble listening to “Empire” often, and really, isn’t that what makes a good album?
I only wish I could still jump around like I used to, because dammit, I sure as hell want to.