Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Retro Review - P. Hux - Kiss the Monster

Here's an excellent 10+ album! Two years later and I'm still listening to it regularly. Outstanding power pop from one of America's many under-appreciated songcrafters. The song "Bones" is, quite possibly, one of the most perfect songs ever written.

Parthenon Huxley makes writing a phenomenal song look easy. His ninth and latest album, Kiss the Monster, is crammed with eleven timeless songs that effortlessly capture the youthful awe of a summer day at the beach. It’s no wonder he’s been called the American Andy Partridge and spent the better part of eight years as the singer/guitarist for ELO Part II, capably filling the unfillable shoes of Jeff Lynne.

Speaking of E.L.O., “Yesterday” has the amazing power pop feel of this group with subtly distorted guitars and lyrics that expertly capture the tentative moments early in a relationship (“Now I don’t want to scare you / And say too much too fast”). In “Perfect” The Spongetones meet REM with a breezy and hopeful song that layers Parthenon’s relaxed vocals into harmonies the just beg you to join along. “Come Clean” is a song about confession (“And when I finally tell her everything / There might be nothing left between us”), starkly admitting that the line of “it was just physical” is poppycock (“effing really effing matters”), while some unorthodox bass noodlings adorns the subtle string orchestration. Frail vocal harmonies will squeeze your heart in “Better Than Good”, a sunny summer day on the beach where an autumn breeze ominously intrudes. The album closer is “Everything’s Different Now”, a gentle, beautiful lullaby to his daughter (“I’m under your tiny thumb”) filled with great lyrics every parent will understand: “Everything’s different now / There’s no more ‘More of the same’” and “One day you’ll get me back for making you look like me.”

As good as these songs are there are two that will simply drop your jaw, revealing why P. Hux is a songwriter’s songwriter. “My Friend Hates Me” opens with a creamy tube-drenched guitar that leads to a crunchy rhythm, poppy “Do Do Dos”, an astounding melody and line after line of humorous lyrics as to why he lost his friend - “Maybe I’m just a loser / Maybe he’s back on drugs / Maybe I was an a$$hole / Maybe he needs a hug.” Do you remember that great A.M. radio pre-disco sound? P. Hux nails it in “Bones”, a ballad full of Wurlitzers, light electric guitar, horns, real strings, and a romantic chorus set to a melody so achingly good mere mortals are unworthy: “I’ll take everything that you’ve got / Even the stuff you don’t want / Take the good and the bad / I want it all.” Wings? Hall and Oats? Novices!

Kiss the Monster should come with a warning sticker- THESE SONGS WILL STICK IN YOUR HEAD. It’s obvious that this man has been drinking from the wells of Joe Jackson, Gin Blossoms, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, XTC, and Fountains of Wayne. There’s an enduring quality to these songs, a gentle truth free of musical clichés and trendy studio gimmicks. What else do I have to say?!?!? BUY THIS ALBUM!

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