|Señor Happy - I'm Sorry|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 06 July 2004|
Power pop is a style with deep roots in classic sounds of the Beatles, the Who and the Beach Boys, which had its heyday with acts like the Raspberries and Badfinger in the ‘70s, and still showed signs of life with the arrival of the Posies and Material Issue in the ‘90s. Even after all this time, and after countless incarnations, it’s a musical approach that never seems to sound old or dated. And if you like any of these aforementioned artists, chances are you’ll also find something to like about Señor Happy.
You may like it, but you probably won’t fall head-over-heels in love with it, either. That’s because much of I’m Sorry is more glazed than donuts, so to speak. Take the opener, “She’s New.” Sure, it has plenty of harmonic vocals – similar to those popularized by the iconic Teenage Fanclub – and a likeable chunky guitar riff to boot. But it’s not memorable the way, say, “What I Like About You” by the Romantics is. After countless commercial appearances, that little ‘80s rock gem is still going strong. Señor Happy, on the other hand, has the formula down, yet misses the mark on substance. “Echoes And Falls” is jaunty piece with subtle horns, which varies the overall output slightly. But it’s not nearly enough of a wrinkle to set this group apart from hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of others just like it.
When the band tries to slow things down to low gear ballad speed, they aren’t much better. “Love If You’re Real” features a melody that is just a little too close to Radiohead’s “High And Dry,” even with its jangly acoustic guitar part. The group sounds far more within its natural environment on “Get Up and Go Out,” due to this recording’s glam big beat. But just as this group’s tunes are not as catchy as the aforementioned Romantics, its lyrics also aren’t anything special. Power pop pioneers Cheap Trick best exemplifies an enjoyable quirkiness, for instance, which is a trait that might greatly enhance Señor Happy’s output. The Trick’s Rick Nielsen is by no means a poetically smooth lyricist, but he at least filled “Surrender” with enough weirdness to make you scratch your head over it, even all these decades later.
There’s a large gulf between an album that makes you Mr. Happy, and one that leaves you Mr. Satisfied. Señor Happy has created a likeable but not always loveable album with I’m Sorry. It’s certainly a long way from satisfying. Of course, if you crave power pop and find the cupboard bare, this release might just do in a pinch. But no musical dietician in his right mind would ever recommend it for the long haul.