I wonder what must be going on inside the head of Jordon Zadorozny. I mean, how can he keep track of all of the diverse sounds that permeate all his songs? “September Already” lets loose with a couple of distorted power chords that quickly fades away into haunting Robin Guthrie-esque filigrees. On “Crazy Eyes,” Zadorozny’s vocals strain towards the stratosphere until they get all fuzzed out and indistinct, but just when the song seems a little too dreamy, handclaps and new wave-esque synths ground it all.
“Pretty Pictures” is one of those rare songs that I can never seem to get tired of, no matter how many times I hear it. The overall sound is that of a classic ultra-produced AM hit from the ’70s, like one of those you see popping up on a Rhino compilation; but it’s hard not to get into it, what with Zadorozny’s vocal arrangements, strings, and congos. Even when the overly dramatic guitar solo comes in from out of nowhere, the song never approaches kitsch… or if it does, it simply uses it as inspiration and goes from there.
Vocally, Zadorozny is a bit of a chameleon. At times, he approaches, dare I say it, Perry Farrell-esque territory. On “Your Big Night, Sandy,” his voice easily passes from being short and angular to drifting somewhere far above the bridge. On “Strange As They Say,” he could easily pass for Eric Matthews. But most of the time, his vocals stay in Matthew Sweet territory, still sounding earnest and passionate, no matter how many times they’re layered and slathered with effects.
The album’s weak moments are few and far between: the piano-driven “On This Earth” strives to be a ballad, but never really raises my interest; the album’s other somber moment, “There’s Nowhere You Can Hide,” fares a little better, again striking a ’70s rock pose. But there’s no escaping the fact that the album is pop album first and foremost, in all of its unabashed glory. The real beauty, however, is that there’s actually a great deal of substance once you peel back the layers of studio sheen. Or maybe it’s that all of the studio sheen still feels so natural to the songs, that rather than sounding overly produced, they just sound a little too good to be true.