“Pretend It’s Love”
April 23, 2013 - +1
It’s easy to imagine the Postelles as freshly scrubbed, sweater clad and crisply coiffed like the album cover for some early-’60s vocal pop group. The New York quartet are definite pop aficionados, lifting liberally from the past half-century, ranging from punchy ’80s rock to doo-wop, power pop and adult alternative. It’s undeniably winsome almost to the point of oppression—similar to the way that first overly effervescent swig of Coke stings the back of your throat. Frankly, there’s an overwhelming desire to muss their hair or trip them as they pass. Such is the nature of their upbeat, love-addled songs. (Suffice to say they won’t win any awards for originality.)
That said, they’re decent songwriters with plenty of melodic savvy. There’s no lack of hooks or fetching vocal melodies. Even the production isn’t as shiny as you’d expect from similarly minded mainstream acts such as the Fray. (Credit goes to long-time supporter/producer, the Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond.) They definitely evoke Fountains Of Wayne, but with the Big Star jangle and quirky wit downplayed in favor of new-wave and radio-pop echoes. For example, there’s “Tidal Wave,” whose bubbly air and soul-pop undercurrent recalls Wham!, the half-lidded Verve of “Parallel Love” and ‘70s bar-band rock, “Running Red Lights,” with backing female vocals. While each is passable—as is the entire album—there are several moments where they rise above mere adequacy. Chief among these is “Pretend It’s Love,” a clever “love the one you’re with” paean featuring wonderful duet vocals from Alex Winston. Other highlights include the punchy “Sweet Water,” which is a dead ringer for the Plimsouls, and the Goo Goo Dolls-ish “Heavy Eyes,” where a background banjo or ukulele provides a twangy, earthy counterpoint to the ringing guitars.
Power pop gets its bones from the Beatles but they’ve been turned over more times than a Big Easy graveyard, so an act must really step up their writing and craftsmanship to avoid sounding heavily picked over. The Postelles flash moments of this talent, but often come off as a pedestrian version of a banal sound. There’s no shame, but not a lot of plaudits either.