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SPLITSVILLE Incorporated (Houston Party)

Discounting the Beatles-Beach Boys pastiche cum tribute that was The Complete Pet Soul, Incorporated is actually Splitsville’s first album of all-new material in close to five years (since 1998’s Repeater in fact).

On the personnel front, Matt and Brandt Huseman and Paul Krysiak have recruited guitarist Tony Waddy to “fill-up” the Splitsville sound and the results are terrific! Unlike Repeater, which came across too much like vignettes of the band’s favourite albums, there is a mature assurance, an originality about Incorporated that marks Splitsville’s return as a quantum leap.

This sophistication is never more evident than in the country-poppish “The Mentalist” where wistful melodies, trembling guitars and melancholy tone almost make Splitsville sound erm adult.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a putdown but the highest compliment as Splitsville takes its place amongst the greats in the history of rock and pop music.

Take the opening “White Dwarf” with it’s soft-rock power chords and ruminations on black light particles, dead stars and heaven as metaphors for love. Waddy turns in a virtuoso solo that will have you pressing ‘repeat’ incessantly.

Speaking of guitar heroes, “Heart Attack” actually communicates an acid rock meets power pop vibe, like Hendrix playing guitar for the Raspberries! Very cool.

“Headache” is a bit of a throwback, evoking the Huseman’s time with the seminal power pop outfit, Greenberry Woods. “The Next One” is a flight of big ballad fancy Splitsville style with epic guitars and throaty vocals detailing a ‘cold turkey’ experience of addiction withdrawal. “Sasha” channels the Zombies and John Lennon simultaneously, a love story gone horribly wrong. “California” is the Knack dancing with XTC, polar opposites of libidinal excesses as the boys deconstruct the West Coast fantasy.

Where’s the punk-pop you’re wondering? Well, “Brink” and “Trouble” should sate that urge quickly before “I Wish I Never Met You” comes on sounding very much like a Pet Soul outtake as heavenly 12-stringed acoustic guitars and an angelic tune lifts us into Byrdland.

A complete and perfect album that begs to be heard from start to finish, Incorporated, is a testament to Splitsville’s belief in the power pop ideal that you can still touch hearts and intrigue minds with music that is melodic, vibrant and texturally dense.

Let me just say that if you had to listen to one power pop album this year, it would have to be Splitsville Incorporated. A+ www.splitsville.com