Chris Stamey – Euphoria
You, the readers of Stomp and Stammer, are the true gourmands of rock ’n’ roll – a highly evolved, sophisticated and smart bunch, the proverbial Last of the Mohicans, a dying breed of aesthetes. I’m betting you’re getting uglier every day, too. (God knows I am. Sheesh. These days, my mantra is just don’t look in the mirror. Aargh – the horror!)
So I won’t top-load this review with a laudatory preamble about the pleasures of power pop. I won’t offer a brief history of The dB’s, a band that (along with the Shoes) reconstructed the pop song in a slightly edgier, postpunk context for a shimmering, fleeting moment of ecstasy in the early 1980s. I won’t go into a longwinded tirade about how dB’s auteur Chris Stamey is the greatest power pop songwriter alive, now that Saint Alex has departed this mortal coil. Well, I guess I just did.
Stamey’s new effort, Euphoria, makes good on the promise of its title. Now pushing 60, Stamey still sounds like an uncertain adolescent. Stamey’s compositions are as symmetrically perfect as ever. Stamey’s lyrics are characteristically smart, endearing, funny and sad. And the melodies: Those Melodies.
The best power pop is something like a summer breeze, a caffeine/sugar high, or the furtive breast-grope that punctuated that final moment of a sweaty, teenage makeout session back in junior high. The best power pop has a certain je ne sais quoi. It somehow captures the essence of fleeting youth. It juxtaposes love and heartbreak, joy and regret. That’s a tall order, isn’t it?
So, what is it that enables Stamey to pull off the aforementioned tall order by capturing such ephemeral moments in the album’s 10 sonic slices of pop perfection? How does Stamey so capably express vulnerability and yearning without being wimpy? Well, I guess it’s magic. Euphoria is, simply put, the best power pop of today. So shuck your cynicism for a moment, buy the fucking album and let yourself enjoy something for once, OK?