The Posies Continue Loyalty to Pop Structure on ‘Solid States’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


posieslpFrom their very inception in 1988, The Posies have moved against the prevailing currents of musical fashion including the grunge moment as it emanated from their native Seattle shortly thereafter. And while their loyalty to pop structure, combined with emphasis on vocal harmonies, has threatened to pigeonhole them within the glib category of power pop, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have soldiered on against such arbitrary categorization, continuing to defy it with Solid States, the first Posies album in five years.

The founding duo’s activities outside the group account for that extended  interim and may also be the source of the creative bravery that moves them to reduce the prominence of guitars in the overall sound of Solid States.  Yet the very title of the album evinces their commitment to artistic independence, as does the declamatory nature of the very first track “We R Power.” “Titanic” and “March Climes,” however, more than adequately refresh the memory of acoustic and electric fretboards as the original foundation of the sound of the Posies, while “Unlikely Places” unmistakably reminds of the emotional depth and intelligence in both the material and the performances Auer and Stringfellow oversee.

In fact, there’s an intricate interweaving of those two virtues as the founding duo (and erstwhile members of Big Star), without one iota of self-consciousness, capture them in these twelve studio . The sonic resonance correlates with the expression of Auer and Stringfellow’s respective personalities as well as the combined persona that arises from the lyrics on “Squirrel vs. Snake,” (from which comes this record’s title). The words of such tunes as “The Definition” sound like transcripts of internal conversations and there’s comparably focused craftsmanship devoted to as the arrangements of such cuts.

Recruiting current road-warrior Frankie Siragusa as drummer and enlisting additional vocalists on Solid States reaffirms Auer and Stringfellow’s keen awareness of how how recording best translates to live performance and vice versa. If the durability of the Posies music wasn’t obvious enough after near thirty years, the embroidered vocals on “Rollercoaster Zen” offer additional evidence in much the same way as the keyboard-derived instrumental crescendos mirrors the jarring verbal images of “The Sound of Clouds.” And even if the following track, “Radiance,” concludes Solid States with appropriate finality, the nature of its punctuation to these forty-four minutes of heady sound maintains open possibilities of a continuing future for the Posies.

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