October 02, 2005

The Posies "Every Kind of Light"

If any band deserves to win a prize for being the most passive-aggressive, it would rightfully go to The Posies. Even though they broke up several years ago, leaders Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow released a number of vintage recordings, a box set, a record or two of newly-recorded versions of Posies classics and they even toured together playing Posies tunes--but none dared call it a Posies reunion. It seems as if the band had some kind of hidden reservations about fully returning to their past.

For many people, The Posies' defenitive statement was 1993's Frosting On The Beater, a loud, hard collection of really, really wonderful pop songs, including the sticky-sweet "Flavor of the Month," the mindbendingly beautiful "Solar Sister" and the powerful "Dream All Day." Later records Amazing Disgrace and Success were good, but didn't quite have the same powerful yet catchy punch. Every Kind of Light isn't as hard, either, but that's not a fault; "All In A Day's Work," "I Finally Found a Jungle I Like!!!" and "Second Time Around" fly high and punch hard just like the Posies of yore. It's to their credit that Auer and Stringfellow didn't get caught up in trying to imitate the band's past glories; how many reunions can you think of that have been ruined by bands embarassingly trying to recreate their glory days?

Instead, the band has deftly blended the mellower soft rock country-rock elements of their last album, Success, with the harder edge of previous years, and have succeded in making the album that Success should have been. Considering that Auer & Stringfellow's various Posies "reunion" shows were acoustic, and the previous "Posies" releases before this have also been acoustic, it should come as no surprise that Every Kind of Light is a mellower affair. As they've proven themselves to be quite adept in the songwriting department, this new focus on mellower music is an unsurprisingly excellent development. Considering that Every Kind of Light sounds not unlike Stringfellow's two recent solo albums, it's probably safe to assume that this is the direction The Posies were heading.

The Posies built their reputation with superior songwriting, and they've yet to lose their magic touch. Every Kind of Light is filled with excellent songs, period. Whether it's the mellowed-out balladry of "Conversations," the gorgeous soft-rock of "Love Comes," the bluesy "It's Great to Be Here Again!," the scathing political rock of "Sweethearts of Rodeo Drive" or the harder moments of "I Finally Found a Jungle I Like!!!," you're going to find the same wonderful guitar work, the same excellent lyrics and, as always, the gorgeous Auer/Stringfellow harmonies. Throw all of these together and you've got an excellent, mature pop record from a band who, at one time, could do no wrong--and who can still do no wrong.

So while The Posies might not pack the same punch as their earlier incarnation, it's also quite apparent that Auer and Stringfellow know that they're still badass songwriters. In fact, I'm kind of glad they didn't try to imitate their glory days. Every Kind of Light is a welcome return and, simply put, it's a great record. But, really, did you expect any less from The Posies? I know I didn't.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.theposies.net
Label Website: http://www.rykodisc.com

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