Can you will yourself into liking a CD or is it merely that the recording is a ‘grower’? The term itself is suspect; it’s almost a prettified way of saying “I listened to it until I liked it.” However, there’s no other way I can honestly define my experience with the latest CD by The Shazam, Meteor. On first listen it wasn’t that I disliked it so much as it did not grab me in the slightest, yet there must have been something swirling around in there because I kept coming back to it. I can now say that it is on regular rotation on our corporate 747, Popdose Force One my car stereo.
There are still some things about the album that don’t quite sit right, not the least of which is a sense of goofiness on some of the songs, particularly “Latherman Saves the World” and “Disco at the Fairgrounds,” but they’re fun. And if you’re not a cantankerous old grouch like I am most of the time, you would probably find the pop silliness immediately endearing. The latter track features the strange collusion of a verse worthy of an OK GO album clashing with the chorus reminiscent of Queen’s lighter moments. It’s not a shock. The album was producer by the storied and enigmatic producer known as Mack, who helmed many a Queen album in his day.
Mack also produced Billy Squier’s breakthrough album Don’t Say No, and damned if the Shazam’s lead guy Hans Rotenberry doesn’t sound a lot like him on the track “Don’t Look Down” — homage, coincidence, or a calculated callback? I’m picking door number three because that song was one of the primary things that brought me back to the whole album in spite of initial indifference. You might recall in a recent review, I took to task a performer for using the term “fuck” in the title because it was unnecessary and inadvertently trivialized a decent song. The same could be said for The Shazam’s “NFU” (or, “not fucked-up enough”) but there is a difference. Because “NFU” is surrounded by more lighthearted material, it doesn’t come off quite as trivial. Unnecessary, sure, but it gets a pass.
The album features a monster hook in the track “A Little Better” co-opting a Zeppelin acoustic groove, and while I don’t think it would have peacefully coexisted with the songs on Houses Of The Holy, I didn’t mind in the least cranking the volume up. It all combines and reasserts my initial question. Did I grow to like Meteor or force myself through doubt and uncertainties in order to like Meteor? The answer is that I like it now and how I arrived at that position is irrelevant. Sometimes you just have to be in the right, or slightly goofy, frame of mind to get what’s coming your way.
Meteor is available at Not Lame Records.