Tv Highway To The Stars
By: Japanese Correspondent- Patrick Doherty
"Power-noise-pop" may be too generic and cliched as a descriptor for a band that has a self-proclaimed infatuation with Imperial Teen, but at least it gives you a pretty good idea. The trio that constitutes Dealership (Chris Groves, Miyuki Jane Pinckard and Chris Wetherell) obviously missed out on the directive accompanying Blur"s self-titled 1997 release that ordered all indie bands to cease playing pop immediately in favor of dark, jarring, and sample-heavy rock. With an obvious disregard for that faddish end, Dealership has progressed to the point where indie rock should have been four years ago: a cross between the power of the Pixies with the boneheaded simplicity of the Ramones.
What separates Dealership from its power-pop contemporaries is the sheer lack of shame regarding its pop influences. These days, it"s almost second nature to expect indie pop bands of renown to be tongue-in-cheek, letting you know that while they dig the Beach Boys they also have a proclivity for darker and rougher rock to ensure that their street credibility remains intact. Not so with Dealership. Fully committed to major chords and vocal harmonies, the trio proudly swirls in a wave of calculated fuzz and syrupy melodies.
Of Dealership"s more impressive qualities is its ability to switch sub-genres within the general umbrella of power-pop seemingly at will. The first track, "TV Heart," is typical of their its sound: R.E.M.-ish major-chord guitar jangle alternating with heavy fuzz guitar and repeated choruses like "So happy now, happy now, happy now" Let it out, let it out, let it out." This is immediately followed by a keyboard-based dub track with French lyrics that would seem to draw immediate comparisons to Stereolab were it not for the occasional solo keyboard riffs that make it sound a lot more like bubbly fluff peddlers, Bis. Styles continue to shift throughout the record; the one constant being the band"s overt pop sensibility. There are a few slower, darker tunes including "California," "Together This Moment" and "Seventeen", but even these have upbeat rhythms that almost force you to dance, albeit with some reserve.
Dealership"s songwriting on TV Highway To The Stars is charmingly adolescent with lyrical themes focusing on the rawest of infatuation-based emotions and insecurities. From "Just So": "Don"t you think it"s time you told me who you are? No better place than now, the back seat of your car." From "Seventeen": "I wish that he would go away. I wonder what I"ll wear today, afraid to hear my best friend say that I"m not cool." From "Faded Crushes": "Think you"re clever, well I"m better; you"d fuck better in my sweater, I"m much better fucking with your head." Don"t think Dealership to have a shallow writing style, though; it"s just that Dealership is honest about its angst without hiding behind pretentious poetic ramblings.
Listening to TV Highway To The Stars right after giving something like the latest Low album a spin is sure to make you hate Dealership, as you"re likely to cough up cotton candy, but disparity in music is always a good thing. If you"re apprehensive about being overly saturated with sugar-coated pop, the best bet is to let the melodies filter in, through osmosis or some other means, until when at the end of the conversion you begin to wonder why more bands don"t play like this. Dealership is young, unpretentious, and blatantly poppy. With shout-outs to their local college radio station in their liner notes, you can"t help but admire their innocence and charm. On TV Highway To The Stars you get what you pay for: light-hearted, catchy power-pop and nothing else. Take it or leave it.