The versatile, Los Angeles-based, Mr. Falkner returns after five years with his fourth solo album, and he is still successfully riding essentially the same power-pop wave that he took to after his time in The Three O’Clock and Jellyfish.
The first song, “This Time,” is radio-ready 70s pastiche that slowly lures the listener in with a wavering melody. “NYC” continues in the same vein of broad, largely accessible pop songs that he can, apparently, write with relative ease. He sings and plays everything on the record, except for the drums on one song, and it can feel somewhat claustrophobic at times, but he is in full command of his faculties throughout the proceedings.
His flexible musical prowess has earned him guest spots on quite an array of other people’s records: Air, Beck, Cheap Trick, Glen Campbell, Travis. By the third track, “The Knew,” he throws in a twistier guitar riff, and, combined with a strong, more acrobatic vocal performance, it’s another workmanlike variation on the theme. On “Stephanie Tells Me” the production feels a little soupy, and maybe it would crackle and pop more if the various parts had more separation in the mix. Then again, maybe it’s intentional, as the song drifts off on its own path melodically.
With “Hurricane” he starts to bend and lean toward the new wave end of the spectrum. With a better than average voice, he moves a song around the room not unlike a younger Todd Rundgren, and he could certainly use that more to his advantage with looser songs that take more chances.
At any rate, I don’t have many complaints about the project, in general. I could pick apart a sequence, here or there, and demand something else be added, but what, exactly? Sometimes, if something works okay, you just don’t fuck with it. I won’t say Jason Falkner is pushing the envelope, smashing barriers or opening up new worlds here, but if he’s getting his freak on, and his fans like it, who the hell am I to judge? That connection is better than nothing, in this cruel world.