"Morning Tide" - The Little Ones
There's lightweight-breezy and there's substantive-breezy, and the Little Ones, a quintet plying power pop from Los Angeles, have nailed the wonderful but difficult job of being substantive-breezy. That's really what great power pop is about: music that sails and soars but is nevertheless grounded in something deep and true and serious.
So, how to tell the difference between the lightweight and the substantive, when the music is in both cases so breezy and easy and catchy? I look to the craft of it for clues. When there's more than one hook, that's a good sign ("Morning Tide" has three, to my ears). When there the song is instrumentally interesting--when, that is, the instrumental parts are themselves worth listening to--that's another good sign. (The Little Ones, it should be known, like to use a Mellotron, which is potentially a bonus.) Lyrics that aren't totally vapid: yet another sign (unintelligible lyrics are fine, by the way). Best of all, I discern substance in the unexpected twist or turn--when the song goes somewhere you might not have expected but, once it's there, it's perfect. In "Morning Tide," that moment for me comes halfway through the chorus, when the melody jumps up and shifts rhythms--the "It's something to think about" part (1:49). Where did that come from? Wonderful stuff.
"Morning Tide" is the title track to the band's second CD, which was released in the U.K. in July, and is scheduled for an October release in the U.S. on Chop Shop Records. Like Land of Talk, the Little Ones are also Fingertips returnees.