A few seconds into this album’s opening track, “Good Day” (download), and I almost started to believe that the 2005 model of pre-fabricated power pop could actually work. Every aspect of The Click Five — from their matching suits, to their haircuts, to the involvement of Adam Schlesinger and Elliot Easton in Imrie House — seems completely calculated. They’ve even opened for Ashlee Simpson and the Backstreet Boys.
Some of the best pop is pure formula, though, and part of the joy of listening to this type of album is catching the various timeworn songwriting/production devices as they fall out of the woodwork. Imrie House has a ton of ‘em: Handclaps? Check. Wheezy synths? Yup. Chorused background shouts? Uh-huh. A song about the weekend? Hell yeah. It’s connect-the-dots rock, sure, but that’s sort of the point. The key is just connecting the right dots. For a few songs, The Click Five stay on the good foot.
Part of what makes great power pop work, though, is tension — between hoary musical cliches and witty, off-beat lyrics; between candy-coated gloss and ragged rock & roll punch. This is also what makes great power pop so rare; it’s easier to mimic someone else’s musical stylings than it is to be lyrically original (or even worthwhile). Its debt to The Cars and The Raspberries notwithstanding, this music is still being marketed to screaming teenage girls, so witty lyrics go right out the window. And down the driveway. And into traffic, where they’re hit by a speeding truck. Lines like “Girl, I wanna catch your wave” and “Every princess has a knight” shouldn’t have made it out of a seventh-grader’s poetry notebook.
By the time I got to “Angel To You (Devil To Me)” (download) — the intro to which was lifted verbatim from another song whose name I can’t remember, and it’s driving me crazy — I’d pretty much had enough. The Click Five are basically The Rubinoos with a bigger budget and worse songs, so after finishing with Imrie House, I went and listened to some Rubinoos. Now you should, too — start with “The Girl” (download) and then go buy a CD or two.