You could make the argument that this is one of those reviews that just writes itself. On first hearing the name of the band, I thought “Who fans”, since instinct said “A Legal Matter”… Right. That’s one checked off. Then I listened to the album – with some anticipation, I might add – and tried so hard not to think it, but “yes. They’ve studied Big Star”. Right. That’s another one checked off – look at their photo. Now – here’s the most important factor in all this – I was not predisposed to just automatically like the band or this album. No – listen to this album once – you’re hooked. There’s just no way to avoid the sheer brilliance that Keith Klingensmith, Andy Reed and Chris Richards deliver in this spectacular ten song debut album. All the elements of proper, hook-laden, structured power pop in the vein of Big Star, The Raspberries, Badfinger (and some inflections of The Who on the “rockier” songs). The Legal Matters have “it” – that glorious something special. The Legal Matters is a top-flight debut killer.
From the opening drum slams of “Rite Of Spring”, the harmonies are tight (Beach Boys/angelic), the melody strong with subtle keyboard flourishes and you know you’re in for a sweet ride. “Stubborn” has a very Dear 23/Big Star In Space kind of taut groove while “Have You Changed Your Mind?” has all the elements of classic “hit single” written all over it – acoustic driven and a wonderful grabs-you chorus. “Mary Anne” reminds me of one of Wings’ slower tracks with golden vocals and harmonic interplay; “It’s Not What I Say” is a slightly muted minor-chord framed number which immediately recalls Big Star’s “You Get What You Deserve” with a delicious acoustic guitar solo and “Before We Get It Right” is a pure, perfect, sunny, upbeat pop song in big, bold letters.
Track for track, this album from The Legal Matters jumps to the head of the class in my estimation for this year’s winners. It’s not an off-handed comment – this album has begun to live with me from the first listen and if any piece of work – be it music, written, painted – can do that with such immediacy, it’s worth its salt.
The Legal Matters will be released Tuesday, November 4th, 2014.