Material Issue, "Telecommando Americano" (Ryko) Ė 3 Ĺ stars
Material Issue is one of those bands that viewed the "power pop" label as the ultimate badge of honor. And power pop doesnít get much better than the Chicago-based trio, whose latest album "Telecommando Americano" hits stores Tuesday.
The 11 new songs have a cohesive feel to them, despite being patched together in the aftermath of singer-songwriter-guitarist Jim Ellisonís suicide during the recording of the album. Ellison was a gifted songwriter who crafted perfect three-minute pop numbers that defied the listener to sit still. And he doesnít disappoint here. "976-LOVE" is witty and fun, while the simplistic narration of "You Were Beautiful" makes the heart skip a beat.
The skewed lyrical urgency of "What If I Killed Your Boyfriend" is offset by a sweet, almost adolescent delivery. Drummer Mike Zelenko and bassist Ted Ansaniís rhythm section deftly complements Ellisoinís flexible, quivering vocals, which make the listener feel his delirious joy or isolated longing.
Also included on the album are six songs from the groupís 1987 EP that show that even when they were unknowns, they played like they were rock stars. The searing "A Very Good Thing" is as good anything out there today.
"Telecommando" is the bandís swan song. Itís a strong, fitting close to the bandís all too short legacy of perfect pop songs.