Ohio-based indie band the Big Sweet are very young, they’re teenagers even, but they rock a very sophisticated sound, which is that finely tuned, happily fussed about power pop sound that should be more popular among the general population, and not just music nerds. Youthful music, like the perfectly named Big Sweet, should all be power pop bands, because they don’t have much to worry about, and that’s a theme that permeates the record. I only wish I’d discovered Ultraviolet Rain during the summer — it’s a sunny day, dustry driving kind of record.
Ultraviolet Rain does push all the buttons of a power pop album—jangly guitars, crisp drums, tambourine hand claps, instrumental drop outs and interludes (”In and Out of Style”), and harmonic ”woo woos.” And that’s just fine, because there’s nothing wrong with pop music, or wanting to make pop music, and the world needs legitimate, authentic music with a good beat that you can dance to. While throwbacky, the occasional drum machine (programmed by drummer Drew Watson), while is a throwback device, paradoxically makes the Big Sweet sound ultra-contemporary, at home amongst the shoegazey Brooklyn rock of their peers.
And yet Ultraviolet Rain does offer a barely detectable edge of sinister or sadness to it. Musically, the vibe is Lush meets Matthew Sweet, but frontman Sam Regas has some ever so slightly pained vocals learned in the Elliott Smith school, and the whole thing is finished off with a touch of No Depression sloppiness. Regas has the presence and confidence of a pop wizard, like Ben Kweller or Adam Schlesinger, that unabashed sensibility for sweet hooks and good feeling music that he surely hears already completed in his head. What’s most striking is the uncanny ability to use just the right instruments and tools on just the right songs — the maracas out of nowhere don’t feel contrived is what I’m saying.
It’s the music that ought to be and will be the soundtrack of the life of a cool teenager trying to figure out what he wants to do with himself. Or at least a track like ”And You Wake” could be used as the theme song for a show on the same topic (”And You Wake”).