Pursuit of Happiness Turns Out Yet More Catchy, Crunchy Candies

Review of Where's the Bone (Iron Music Group/BMG)

by Mark Lepage, Montreal Gazette, August 26, 1995

With a lascivious heavy-helium sound, a stance at once underground and anti-punk, and a long- haired blonde geek-cum-star fronting them, TPOH were naturals. Moe Berg's smirk flickered onto the national consciousness in the late '80's, skewering immaturity with a power-pop rocker ("I'm An Adult Now") and a great indie video. Crunchy guitars on the outside, candied harmonies on the inside, this was a band for everybody's tomorrows.

It was AM pop with punky punch, smart lyrics about girls, fear of girls, and a welcome nasty undercurrent in an age of righteous angst. Moe Berg might have written about a punkette contemplating suicide, but he wouldn't have eulogized her in the grunge fashion, and the hook would've been catchy.

A handful of hummable, nasty, crunchy-candy albums later, and what once were merits had become limitations. Berg seemed to be writing the same song over and over, and the Lemonheads came along to write crunchy-candy three-minute songs with a frontman who sang like a star, not an outsider.

So TPOH's failure to climb to the next level is both deserved and sad. Moe Berg will never make the great leap from pithiness to profundity, nor will his voice ever be anything but distinctive - the sound of a backup singer with frontman attitude. Know what? None of it matters when he can still turn out half a dozen songs this catchy.

The mindset remains the same, from longing ("Kalendar") to political incorrectness ("Save the Whales", the great "they're all so learned and heterophobic" line in "Falling In"). Rascism is tweaked in "Bamboo", white man's guilt in "White Man". Berg remains light-fingered, lifting an old Hüsker Dü riff for "Completely Conspicuous".

Canuck to the core, he pays tribute in the countrified "Gretzky Rocks", sure to make its way into a "Hockey Night In Canada" broadcast this season. Finally, there's tragedy and a hook in "Young and In Love"'s story of a frivolous girl who falls for a faithless rocker and ends up with an all-too-real abortion.

"Little things are so important/ and big things don't matter much" satirizes her with compassion, but it could also be the TPOH eulogy. Oh, and the rocker she falls for is named Evan, as in Dando, as in witty, wishful thinking on Berg's part.

Copyright 1995 Montreal Gazette

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