Artist: The Posies
Album: Solid States
Release Date: 05/20/2016
The Posies, an archetypical power pop combo, ought to be much bigger than they are. For one thing, they embody everything that the power pop legions aspire to: vibrant melodies, effusive harmonies and a teeming dynamic that pulls their listeners in and then holds them spellbound until the songs reach their conclusion. For another, they’ve been around so long that they’ve become role models for all the aspiring ensembles that have tried to follow in their wake. Why they haven’t done better—or at least won a wider audience—is anyone’s guess. After all, nearly three decades of consistent creativity ought to have won them some awareness as far as the average consumer is concerned.
Perhaps it’s a matter of consistency. Co-founders Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have split their time between the Posies and other projects (including Stringfellow’s stint in REM), both on their own and in conjunction with the resurrected Big Star, of which both were a part until Alex Chilton’s demise. Sadly, their bands also suffered some tragic losses of their own with the recent passing of bassist Joe Skyward and, before him, drummer Darius Minwalla. Then here’s the fact that their releases have been consistently inconsistent: their latest, Solid States, emerges a full six years since their last studio album, Blood/Candy, which in turn followed its predecessor Every Kind of Light by a full five years, which came out a full seven years after Success. Given those gaps, fans were forced to either wait in anticipation or invest their attention elsewhere. It’s become a strategist’s nightmare, hardly the setup to ensure subsequent success.
Fortunately, the Posies have always rebounded, and whatever incentive they have to regroup finds fruition in the agreeable music they make. True to its title, Solid States is, again, a solid workman-like affair, flush with resolute integrity, catchy choruses and songs that sound tailor-made for instant gratification. Auer and Stringfellow have an instinctual ability to harvest the right hooks, making it little wonder that of the 12 songs in this set, a sufficient majority sound like they’ve already been in the ethos for ages. Be it the kinetic pulse of the boldly defiant “We R Power,” the torrid tones of “M Doll” and “Squirrel Vs. Snake,” the rowdy and rambunctious “Titanic” or merely the sprightly groove underscoring the maddening “March Climes,” this is an album that reflects two master musicians, who are still in sync, doing what they’ve always done, putting experience and expertise to bear. Whether Solid States makes significant moves in the marketplace remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain is that it’s long past time that the Posies get the credit—and the overdue appreciation—that they have so long deserved.
– Lee Zimmerman