Record label: Teenage USA
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
What the Hell is Penance?
by: mark feldman
This three-piece British Columbia based band waste no time in telling you what they're all about - "Cheap words like happiness / will let you down" is the refrain to the first song, and for fifty five minutes thereafter we hear nothing but the musings of some very disturbed and pessimistic minds.
However, it's often said that the best art comes out of such minds, and The Power of Negative Prayer is no exception. "Cheap Words Like Happiness" is but the first in a long line of timeless dirges of suffering that sprawl across this CD. "Carousels" is probably the best of the bunch and would make a superb single - Dylanesque verses chime out "I might not be not Einstein / but I ain't no Frankenstein" or "You don't say thanks when I splurge / or mourn when I dirge" and the beautiful sing-along chorus of "I see you coming back to me / I dream you riding carousels with buttons all undone" caps it off quite nicely, especially the last chorus, slowed down and sung over acoustic guitar and harmonica. Corny, but brilliant. "Gonna Love You" is a classic teenage crush song - "Girls only like guys who treat them cruel / if you're the exception that proves the rule / give me a call on the telephone wire / and let me know if you're love's for hire." "Made of Glass" contains just about every word that can rhyme with "glass," including the accusation "you're the queen of crass." Sights are set higher on "Losing Time" - "I got bruises on my neck / from the dogchains of romance." These are words that any 17-year-old aspiring poet would die to call his own, but only the best would actually think of.
The list goes on. "Mistaken For an Angel" has all the glorious excess of '80s metal-pop, and even better, none of the annoying screeching and dumb schoolboy lyrics that often went with it. The plead of "Was I just another notch in your bedpost?" at the beginning of "Slipping Through" could bring a tear to anyone's eye. And "The King of Unrequited Love" says it all in the title.
it's often easy to overlook such lyrical brilliance on an album that rocks this hard. Imagine the perfectionist every-note-has-its-purpose melodies of vintage power pop such as Cheap Trick, sung with a whiney Billy Corgan-esque voice with a brash Ramones-like attitude, and you may have somewhat of an idea what Solar Baby sounds like. And it's far from predictable - there are fast songs, ballads, an ubiquitious harmonica, and even the occasional keyboard. But you've really got to hear it to believe it. Solar Baby may not be the most original band in the world, but they certainly worked hard on this promising CD, and they are a first rate outlet for your pain.