The Posies - Solid States (Lojinx)

Venerated US indie rock troupe return with retooled sound on strong eighth album

Released Apr 29th, 2016 via lojinx / By Richard Lewis
The Posies - Solid States (Lojinx) Founded by the songwriting nucleus of guitarist/vocalists Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow in 1987, Washington state power pop ensemble The Posies carved themselves a niche as purveyors of sparkling minor key alt. rock throughout the 1990s.

A band who never received the mainstream acclaim they deserved, unlike their angst peddling contemporaries, Stringfellow and Auer operated in more pastoral territory founded on the pairs’ Everly Brothers standard harmonies, jangling Byrdsian guitars and alt rock crunch, reaching its apogee with unheralded classic Frosting on the Beater (1993)

Signed to DGC, the same Geffen imprint as Nirvana, the band were unsuited (or more accurately, unwilling) to jump on the grunge bandwagon, while one of their best known tracks Flavor of the Month was an acidic reference to their home state’s sudden popularity in the music press.

Building on their hallmark sound Solid States their first new album in six years expands the band’s approach, taking in synths and laptops beats. While the arrangements may have changed, the album retains the group’s formidable songwriting smarts, with R Power possessing the same steely drive as new wavers The Cars and the simple guitar riff that underpins Unlikely Places harking back to their earlier material.

A band who lyrically always ran deep (1993’s Solar Sister drew inspiration from Theodore Dreiser’s Great American Novel Sister Carrie) the dramatic string augmented Squirrel vs Snake casts an eye over the tangled US political scene and the seemingly endless run-up to this year’s election.

Rollercoaster Zen and Titanic are sublime slices of dream pop, woozy combinations of acoustic guitars and synth textures replete with infectious vocal melodies that sees the band easily rank alongside current dream pop doyens Wild Nothing. Elsewhere the understated Scattered and M Doll demonstrates how effectively the band’s new approach works.

While drifting ambient soundscape The Sound of Clouds is slightly inconsequential, the aptly titled Radiance completes the album pretty much creating that effect for the listener. In addition to deserved praise for retooling their sound over a quarter of a century into their career, Solid States is laudable for continuing the beguiling melodicism that made The Posies so notable in the first place.