September 28, 2002

Toothpaste 2000 "Catch-22"

For a brief moment, I thought that this Seattle trio was actually another wonderful Seattle pop band, the Fastbacks.
Having never heard anything by Toothpaste 2000 and happily having heard plenty of Fastbacks records in the past, I kept thinking--hoping--that the sadly-defunct purveyors (nay, inventors?) of indie-pop had regrouped with a brand-new name. Sadly, this was not the case, and I'm going to have to continue to live in a world without the Fastbacks. Still, the vocal interplay between Frank Bednash and Donna Esposito certainly recalls the greatest moments of Kurt Bloch, Lulu Gargiulo and Kim Warnick!

Really, though, Toothpaste 2000 have that retro-punk sound down. From the first note of "Walking Out The Door," Tp2K (as they're commonly known) kick up a wonderful blend of 60s mod/r&b rock, 70s power pop and 80s indie pop that never, ever once sounds dated. After digging around Catch 22, this Seattle trio's sixth album, some real jewels have been found. From the crunchy intro, to the bittersweet "There's Always Something Going On," the wonderfully mellow, touching "When I'm With You" and the full-on rock onslaught of "Crying In The Morning," these three really cover every possible style and variation of power-pop, and every one of their songs sounds nothing less than wonderful. Of course, with the sheer size of Catch-22, it would be very hard not to get a variety of styles and sounds.

About the only real complaint I have with Catch 22 is its size. While the entire album is great, at twenty-two songs, it's simply too much to take at one sitting. (That's a great pun on the length of the album in the title, by the way!) The intricate details are lost, and songs that might have been standouts had the album been smaller are simply lost amidst the bulk of material. Don't get me wrong; the songs are there, and the songs are great, it's just easy to get bogged down after twelve or thirteen songs. It wouldn't have hurt the record to have divided it into two albums, as, surprisingly, the resulting two albums would have been extremely strong--perhaps stronger individually.

Toothpaste 2000 is a power pop-punk treasure, and desipte its girth, Catch 22 is a great record, and it's great to know that some bands out there haven't made melody and attitude mutually exclusive. Methinks it's best to divide this album up in chunks, or, perhaps, set the CD-player on random mix, just so you don't overdose of too much sweetness. You could do much, much worse than Toothpaste 2000, and there's no way you could possibly go wrong with Catch 22. Just don't overindulge.

--Joseph Kyle

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