Album Review: The Posies – Solid States

While power-pop has undergone something of a resurgence in the last decade or so, in truth, it really hasn’t gone away since the hey-day of At Budokan. Prior to that much of power-pop’s groundwork had been laid by the likes of Raspberries, but it was Big Star who are now regularly name-dropped as the cornerstone of the movement. Big Star had become the name to drop for the likes of R.E.M. and The Replacements as their careers advanced through the 80s, and towards the end of that decade bands like Crowded House, Del Amitri and Teenage Fanclub lined up to confess their debt to Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, and the rest of Big Star. However, in this rush to celebrate the pioneers of power-pop, there were no bigger Big Star fans than The Posies, a band so in thrall to their heroes that by the mid 90s they had joined forces with them and become fully signed-up members of Big Star.

Away from moonlighting as their heroes, The Posies had steadily released a series of albums that were so close to Big Star as made no odds. As demonstrated on the albums released at their a creative peak, Frosting on the Beater and Amazing Disgrace, despite their ability to write killer guitar-pop tunes, The Posies struggled with the less-is more approach perfected by their influence, which resulted in them padding out their albums with a little more filler than was strictly necessary. In the majority of Posies albums there is a great thirty five minute album straining to get out, however the fashion during the 90s was to give the fans value for money by releasing lengthier albums. Still, chief Posies Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer didn’t seem to mind, as they were now members of Big Star.

Having spent the last fifteen years going through a series of bewildering cycles of splitting, reforming, recording as Big Star (at least until the sad passing of Alex Chilton in 2010), recording as The Posies and maintaining solo careers, Auer and Stringfellow have recorded another Posies album.

Solid States isn’t a bad album, but it’s nothing that Auer and Stringfellow haven’t done before, and in the current climate where there are many, many power-pop acts doing the rounds, it really struggles to stand out. The trouble is, by comparison to their power-pop contemporaries in the late 80s / early 90s, The Posies never really had a unique selling point until they joined Big Star, the band that all their contemporaries, and the majority of subsequent power-pop acts, have drawn inspiration from. As a result, The Posies now sound too similar to everyone else doing a similar thing to what they have done for the last three decades, and as lovingly crafted as the songs on Solid States are, they sound a little too similar to the majority of other lovingly crafted power-pop tunes that are being released during the current resurgence.

If you’re a fan of The Posies, chances are you will love Solid States. If you’re generally a fan of tuneful guitar-pop, then you’ll find much to admire here. Just don’t expect it to be an album that reaches out and grabs your attention.

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