It is an eternal mystery to me why Britain has never had much time for power pop, seeing as we gave this often charming genre to the world through the Beatles and, to a lesser extent, Badfinger. But we never really swung for it, post-Abbey Road.
When power pop had its mild renaissance in late ’78, we looked away, bored, tugged by disco on the one hand and po-faced boring angular post-punk on the other. The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ — the epitome of power pop — got in the charts, sure. But there was no groundswell. In the USA it was different. Almost everything labelled punk that wasn’t art rock (i.e. Television and Talking Heads) was actually power pop, none more so than the Ramones. We remained aloof. I suppose this is why we never really bought into Green Day.
Green Day are supposed to be American punks but in truth they have always been power popsters, closer in lineage to Tonight (remember ‘Drummer man’!) and the Rezillos than the Pistols or the Clash. But across 13 albums they have always been sharp and catchy and nothing has changed even though Billie Joe Armstrong is now almost 50. ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’ could be a decent Tonight outtake. ‘Oh Yeah!’ samples Gary Glitter to questionable effect. ‘I Was A Teenage Teenager’ (a good title) tries to be strutting and confrontational (who’s hoarding all the drugs?), but merely gently pleases. The guitars are crisp and crunchy, the melodies always contain a hook or two.
The last great purveyors of a vanishing minor art form, one I rather liked.
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