Power-pop seems easy to get right, but it's actually difficult to achieve greatness within this musical sub-species at this late date. After you've heard the style's pinnacles—Big Star, the Shoes, Badfinger, Todd Rundgren, Nick Lowe, the Beat, Split Enz, etc. etc.—it's hard to be impressed by its epigones. Yet sterling new examples of power-pop sporadically surface. Case in point is a new 7-inch single by the Seattle group La Fille, "Alright Already"/"Letting Go" (both songs will appear on the band's forthcoming album, Alright Already, co-produced by Telekinesis' Michael Benjamin Lerner, who also sings backing vocals).
"Alright Already" stomps out of the gate with the bushy-haired, velvet-bell-bottomed bravado of the Move's "Do Ya" (also done by ELO, to much more popular success) before downshifting into a perfectly muted emulation of the peppy, clap-intensive rhythm burned into radio listeners' brains via John Cougar Mellencamp's "Hurt's So Good." Guitarist Jay Louis's high-pitched vocals are the epitome of insouciance. The whole thing radiates a natural, easy-flowing ebullience tempered with self-doubt ("I hate the sound of my voice" is a misguided sentiment, though, as Louis's pipes are as dreamy as they come). If "Alright Already" isn't a moderate hit by the end of the year, I will slowly shake my head in disbelief.