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Edmund's Crown
Artist: Edmund's Crown
Label: Independent Release (2001)
Length: 10 Tracks (37:16 minutes)

New Day

Over the past five or so years, power pop music has experienced a revival of sorts.  In the wake of the relaxing stranglehold of alternative and grunge rock during the last decade, artists like Matthew Sweet and the Gin Blossoms were able to carve a modest niche for themselves by taking up the mantle first knitted by founding power popsters like Big Star and Badfinger who combined the Beatles' prominent melody lines and soaring harmonies with the crunching guitar riffs of bands like the Who and the Kinks. Like Sweet and other modern day revivalists, the members of Edmund's Crown construct the bulk of their self-titled debut upon the same pop-slanted framework.  The story-telling "Made to Soar" transitions nimbly between the light, breezy pop of its verses and a meaty, riff-driven chorus that most '70s classic rockers would love to have written.  Alternately, "Your Way Mine," which careens like a brakeless go-cart running down a steep hill, features plenty of the quirky, carefree early '80s new wave that made artists like Nick Lowe and the Producers so enjoyable.  And "New Day" harks back, more than anything else, to the superb modern pop offered up by PFR during the group's six year run in the early and mid-'90s.

If the band owns an imposing musical dexterity, its members sport an equally daunting lyrical agility.  The  largely tangential wording of "New Day" (I took a thousand years to make a dream/ A thousand years could not explain/And the sun is out today) traces the oblique, often poetic writing style that informed REM's best early work.  "Complete Me," on the other hand, delivers its far more direct sentiment in short, quick bursts that nicely highlight the song's equally energetic musical underpinning.   "Made to Soar" features a genuinely novel plot twist to the often-visited theme of falling away from stardom, while the beautiful "I'm On She's Off" likewise steers well clear of cliche in its look at the similarly well-trodden theme of life on the road.  Perhaps the album's most poignant imagery, though, belongs to the wistful "Shining Star," whose driving musical section and solemn, thought-provoking lyrics (There's a Fred Astaire/ Dancing up the wall in a hall somewhere/ There's an H.G. Wells/ Whose fiction never makes it past his bookcase shelves) instill the gripping anthem with a simultaneous sense of both tragedy and exhortation.  

All in all, Edmund's Crown stands as a solid first album from a talented trio of musicians.  And, while the lion's share of its songs are likely to find favor even with listeners who have never heard of groups like Big Star or the Raspberries, its highly poignant lyrics and consistently catchy tunes are bound to hit a particularly sweet and familiar resonance with the small cluster of pop lovers who remember the place from whence their favorite music first sprang.

Bert Gangl 4/04/2001



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