Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peter Case • Six Pack of Love

Our unofficial Peter Case week continues with some reviews I wrote back in the '90s...

For me, a new Peter Case album is more than that, it's a promise fulfilled. Not just because it's been two years since his last record, and not because it's miles better. It's because Case has made an album that takes all the best elements from Peter Case, and all the vibrancy and energy that made his work with the Plimsouls so good, and comes up with a brilliant work that'll one day be his benchmark.

Six Pack of Love is a baker's dozen of pure pop songs, harkening back to the early '80s when Case and the Plimsouls made the LA "new wave" scene. Cuts here like "It's All Mine" and "Why?" echo the song structure that made "A Million Miles Away" the definitive wave cut. Then songs like "Why Don't We Give It a Go?" and "It Don't Matter What People Say" remind you he's forsaken a lot of the rootsy rock of his previous solo work for more straightforward arrangements. His songwriting is better than ever, though, so the loss is only on paper.

There's an undeniable Lennon-ness to this album (like the Plastic Ono Band yelps at the end of "Why?"), too, that not so much apes The Beatles as it adds a richness of passion that only the best pop music contains. This is due as much to Case's (perhaps) newfound vigor as it is to the fact that he uses the same band throughout Six Pack of Love, which adds a coherence that his previous solo efforts lacked. On these records sidemen were the order of the day (as great as many of them were/are) — they seem so solo. Here we get a tight, ace band featuring bassist Bruce Thomas, the ex-Attraction who helped make Elvis Costello's music a lot better than it might have been, and drummer Gary Mallaber, who's been with everyone from Steve Miller to Bruce Springsteen. If the names Miller and Sprinsteen make you shriek with ambivalence, forget about 'em! Stop by the store and pick up a Six Pack of Love. And when you ask yourself why Case's latest is also his greatest, conjure this horrid ad slogan into your brainstem: Why ask why?

(from The Rocket, Seattle, May 1992)
5/5 (Geffen)

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