The Posies – Blood/Candy

The Posies
Blood/Candy
[Rykodisc]

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The last time I interviewed Ken Stringfellow – he being half of The Posies – he was about to tour behind a solo album while leaving his newborn child with a nanny on an island off the coast of France. Coincidentally, my unattended one-year-old had rolled off the bed that same morning while I was getting ready to do the Stringfellow interview. That's probably why I've had little patience with power-pop fans who sit around and worry about the plight of The Posies.

Still, this is a good time to be concerned about Stringfellow and Jon Auer. The duo had a steady gig going as half of Big Star in recent years. The Posies had become a side-project to music fiends who -– wisely, as it turned out – were just thrilled to go see the guys backing Alex Chilton in concert. Nobody noticed when The Posies' return with 2005's Every Kind of Light was a better album than Big Star's In Space from that same year.

Anyway, Blood/Candy was pretty much in the can before Chilton was in the grave. There's nothing desperate about The Posies' impressive return to form. This is the album that could've salvaged the band's career back when they derailed with 1996's Amazing Disgrace. That was when The Posies sounded labored when trying to rock out or get soulful. Stringfellow and Auer had a skewed artiness that kept them from being mere power-pop disciples, but they were never sure how to distance themselves from a genre that worships staleness.

Blood/Candy, however, has the band knocking out ambitious and catchy pop tunes with a now-veteran rhythm section. It helps that the album was produced by committee. There are a lot of ideas crammed into the lush arrangements and fey rock stylings. It's the density of later Beatles on the budget of early Badfinger, with 12 songs clocking in at just under 43 minutes for maximum effect. You can tell that Stringfellow and Auer took this project seriously enough to compose a proper collection of tunes. (They got lucky when writing in the studio for Every Kind of Light.) Big Star may be dead, but it's sounding like a surprisingly fine idea for The Posies to remain long-lived.